Rep. Matt Gaetz is ‘under investigation for sex trafficking of a teenage girl, 17’
Rep. Matt Gaetz is under investigation for sex trafficking over allegations he had a sexual relationship with a teenage girl, 17, and paid to have her travel with him, according to a report.
Three sources told the New York Times the Justice Department has launched a probe to investigate whether Gaetz, a Republican congressman from Florida and close ally of Donald Trump, violated federal sex trafficking laws.
Two of the insiders said the investigation began during Trump’s final months in office. Gaetz, 38, got engaged to food analyst Ginger Luckey, 26, at the then-president’s Mar-a-Marisma club in late December.
The DOJ inquiry, launched under then-Attorney Universal Bill Barr, is said to be part of a wider probe into Florida official Joel Greenberg, who was slapped with a string of charges last year including sex trafficking of a minor between the age of 14 and 17.
No charges have been filed against Gaetz, who said the allegations are false and part of a plot to extort money from himself and his family.
‘I have definitely, in my single days, provided for women I’ve dated. You know, I’ve paid for flights, for hotel rooms. I’ve been, you know, generous as a partner,’ he said.
‘I think someone is trying to make that look criminal when it is not.’
The report came just hours after it was revealed Gaetz is considering retiring from Congress and taking a job at the right-wing news outlet Newsmax.
Rep. Matt Gaetz is under investigation for sex trafficking over allegations he had a sexual relationship with a teenage girl, 17, and paid to have her travel with him, according to a report
Gaetz’s alleged encounters with the 17-year-old girl took place around two years ago with the DOJ investigation focusing on whether the lawmaker paid for her to cross state lines, the Times reported.
Under federal law, it is a crime to transport someone under the age of 18 across state lines, or coerce them to travel across state lines, to engage in sex in exchange for money.
It is not clear when or how Gaetz met the teenager.
Gaetz told the Times the DOJ told his attorneys he was the subject and not the target of the probe and suggested someone was trying to smear his reputation.
‘I only know that it has to do with women,’ he said.
‘I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.’
The congressman told Axios the allegations are ‘false’ and ‘unclear’ as he blamed an apparent extortion plot.
‘The allegations of sexual misconduct against me are false,’ he said.
‘They are rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million… in exchange for making this case go away.’
Three sources told the New York Times the Justice Department has launched a probe to investigate whether Gaetz, a Republican congressman from Florida and close ally of Donald Trump , violated federal sex trafficking laws. Pictured Trump and Gaetz
Gaetz said he and his father had been working with the FBI in the Northern District of Florida for several weeks on the plot to extort money from his family.
Axios reported that it had seen screenshots of text messages, emails and documents outlining the alleged scheme.
Gaetz claimed a former DOJ employee was behind the extortion plot.
‘I believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to criminalize my sexual conduct, you know when I was a single guy,’ he said.
The 38-year-old said while he often ‘provided for’ women he was dating when he was single, such as paying for flights and hotel rooms, he was ‘absolutely’ confident none of the women were underage.
Sources told the Times senior Justice Department officials, including some Trump appointees, were aware of the investigation due to its nature and the congressman’s profile.
Gaetz, 38, got engaged to food analyst Ginger Luckey, 26, (pictured together at the US Capitol earlier this month) at Trump’s Mar-a-Marisma club in late December
They said it is part of a larger probe into Greenberg, a former tax collector of Seminole County, Orlando, accused of paying for sex with an underage girl and illegally using the state’s DMV database to look up information on her and other women with whom he was engaged in ‘sugar daddy’ relationships with.
Greenberg was indicted last summer on 14 felony charges including child sex trafficking, fraud, identity theft and stalking a former political rival.
The sex trafficking charge involves alleged encounters with a girl aged between 14 and 17 across a six-month period in 2017.
Greenberg was arrested earlier this month for violating the terms of his bond after he allegedly traveled to Jupiter and was involved in some type of police incident there.
The extent of Gaetz’s relationship with Greenberg is unclear but the ex-tax collector shared a photo on Twitter of the two men together at the White House in 2019.
News of the sex-trafficking inquiry came the same day Axios reported that Gaetz has told friends he is considering not seeking re-election in 2022 and may even leave Congress before the end of his term for a job at conservative outlet Newsmax.
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