Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg will plead guilty to 6 felony counts including sex trafficking, wire fraud, and identity theft

Joel Greenberg
Joel Greenberg as pictured on Seminole County’s website. He served as a tax collector in the county before his indictment in 2020.

  • The Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg plans to plead guilty to six felony counts in a plea deal.
  • The charges include sex trafficking, wire fraud, and identity theft.
  • Greenberg’s attorneys and federal prosecutors will formally announce the plea to a judge Monday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The former Florida county tax collector Joel Greenberg will plead guilty to six felony counts including sex trafficking, identity theft, and wire fraud, a significant downgrade from the 33 federal charges he was facing through multiple indictments, Insider has learned.

Greenberg is scheduled to appear in court Monday morning to formalize the plea agreement with Justice Department prosecutors, who are investigating whether he and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida violated federal sex-trafficking laws. A judge will have to sign off on the agreement before it is finalized.

Federal prosecutors in Orlando, Florida, initially charged Greenberg in June 2020; after a series of superseding indictments, the total hit 33 felony counts as varied as sex trafficking, stalking, and cryptocurrency fraud.

But a source familiar with the plea deal said the former Seminole County tax collector would admit to six of those charges.

The plea deal is expected to include standard language that Greenberg must cooperate fully with the US government in his case and any other related matters. That could mean testifying in court or before a federal grand jury in the event of a trial. That could be bad news for Gaetz, a GOP congressman and Trump loyalist.

Greenberg’s cooperation with the federal government has been widely known. When news broke in April that his client seemed interested in plea deal, Greenberg’s attorney Fritz Scheller told reporters, “I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.”

Read more: Matt Gaetz is getting warnings he shouldn’t feel ‘very comfortable’ from a goateed Florida lawyer who likes to quote the Dalai Lama

Legal experts told Insider the prosecutors’ decision to whittle the charges down suggested he had information of significant value.

“His cooperation requires him to be providing truthful testimony and to provide it at the government’s request,” said David Weinstein, a former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He told Insider that Greenberg’s plea agreement would also be significant because it could mean he’d testify in front of a grand jury should Gaetz be charged with a crime and go to trial.

Prosecutors accused Greenberg, among other things, of carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17. Gaetz is also suspected of having had a sexual relationship with the same person, who was 17 at the time of the alleged encounters in 2019.

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Cooperating since late 2020

Greenberg had been cooperating since last year with federal authorities in the case against Gaetz, The New York Times reported in April. He’s said to have given investigators information about an “array of topics,” according to the report, including telling them that he and Gaetz had interactions with women who were given cash and gifts in exchange for sex.

According to The Daily Beast, Greenberg also said in a recent letter that Gaetz paid for sex with a minor. Greenberg is said to have sent the letter to the longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency in a last-ditch bid to obtain a pardon.

“From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18. I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App, or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman,” Greenberg said in the letter, according to the report.

The media outlet also reported earlier that Gaetz sent Greenberg a Venmo payment of $900 in 2018. The following day, Greenberg sent three women various sums of money that totaled $900 using the same app.

This week’s latest developments come days after CNN reported that federal investigators were also seeking the cooperation of a former Capitol Hill intern who used to date Gaetz. The intern did not work in Gaetz’s office.

Gaetz, who has not been charged with a crime, has vehemently denied the allegations against him and insisted the Justice Department’s investigation is part of an elaborate, multimillion-dollar extortion scheme against him and his family.

“The first indictment of Joel Greenberg alleges that he falsely accused another man of sex with a minor for his own gain. That man was apparently innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz,” said Harlan Hill, a spokesman for the lawmaker. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gaetz has hired legal representation amid the growing investigation, and his office released a statement in early April from unnamed female staffers in his office insisting their boss “has always been a principled and morally grounded leader.”

Read more: Inside Matt Gaetz’s office, where surprises – from doing the boss’ TV makeup to cleaning up after messy controversies – are part of the job

That’s not exactly the full picture on Capitol Hill. Also in April, Insider reported Gaetz made his staff members do his hair and makeup before TV hits and got “irate” if too few people showed up at his events. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican of Illinois, has called for Gaetz’s resignation.

Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI agent who served as the lead agent in the government’s case against the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, told Insider that Greenberg’s cooperation would be a nightmare scenario for Gaetz.

“What Gaetz would be concerned about is if there’s a cooperation agreement in this matter that involves the defendant flipping on him,” she said. “That gets scary for coconspirators because they know someone who’s either aware of their crimes or someone they coconspired with is now working with the government.”

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Rep. Matt Gaetz attended drug-fueled parties where attendees sometimes had sex and money changed hands, report says

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz.

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz reportedly attended drug-fueled parties where attendees sometimes had sex.
  • After the parties, money sometimes changed hands, CNN reported on Wednesday.
  • Gaetz made payments between 2018 and 2019 to at least one woman who went to the parties.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz was a fixture at parties that frequently involved drug use and sex, and after which money sometimes exchanged hands, CNN reported.

Two women who attended several of the parties told the news outlet that the events took place in Florida and often featured men who were active in local Republican politics. CNN reported that the first thing some women were told to do was put their phones away because the men didn’t want the parties to be documented on social media or in photographs.

Partygoers would share drugs like ecstasy and cocaine, and “some had sex,” the report said. After some of the parties, money was sent to some attendees, and CNN said it viewed digital receipts showing that Gaetz and his associate Joel Greenberg used payment apps to send “hundreds of dollars to at least one woman who attended the parties.”

The payments are said to have been made between 2018 and 2019 and the label for at least one of them said it was for travel expenses.

These details are likely of high interest to federal investigators who are probing whether the Florida congressman had a sexual relationship with a minor and broke federal sex-trafficking laws. Greenberg, who has already been indicted on 33 counts, appears to be close to a plea deal and has been cooperating with prosecutors against Gaetz since last year.

Greenberg gave investigators information about an “array of topics,” according to The New York Times, including telling them that he and Gaetz had interactions with women who were given cash and gifts in exchange for sex.

Politico also reported that the feds obtained a search warrant and seized Gaetz’s iPhone in December. The report said that Gaetz changed his phone number last year and that investigators also seized his former girlfriend’s phone in November.

The GOP lawmaker has fervently denied the allegations against him and claimed the Justice Department’s investigation into him is part of an elaborate and convoluted scheme to extort his family for millions of dollars. A spokesperson for Gaetz did not directly respond to CNN’s request for comment but questioned the use of anonymous sources.

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Matt Gaetz sought a preemptive pardon from Trump before he left office, according to report

Matt Gaetz
CHEYENNE, WY – JANUARY 28: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) holds a phone to the microphone as Donald Trump Jr. speaks remotely to a crowd during a rally against Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on January 28, 2021 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Gaetz and Trump Jr. added their voices to a growing effort to vote Cheney out of office after she voted in favor of impeaching Donald Trump.

  • Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz sought a pardon from Trump before he left office.
  • The New York Times reported that Gaetz wanted “blanket pre-emptive pardons for himself” and allies.
  • The lawmaker is under federal investigation over whether he violated sex trafficking laws.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida sought “blanket pardons” for himself and his political allies from President Donald Trump shortly before Trump left office in January, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The Times, citing two people familiar with the discussions, said Gaetz asked the Trump White House, in its final weeks, to grant him immunity for any crimes for which he might later be convicted.

Gaetz is currently being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, and broke sex trafficking laws by doing so.

The department began investigating Gaetz late last summer as part of a broader inquiry into the former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last August on 14 felony counts, including carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17. Last week, it was reported that the girl at the heart of the Gaetz inquiry is the same one who was involved in the sex trafficking charge against Greenberg.

Federal prosecutors started investigating Gaetz under then Attorney General William Barr’s tenure, and Barr and several other senior Trump appointees at the Justice Department were briefed on the probe. The Times reported that it was “unclear” if Gaetz or the White House “knew at the time of the inquiry, or who else he sought pardons for.”

Read more: Matt Gaetz’s Florida sex game included a ‘Harry Potter’ challenge and ‘extra points’ for sleeping in sorority houses, a female Republican tells Insider

The Florida Republican “did not tell White House aides that he was under investigation for potential sex trafficking violations when he made the request,” the newspaper said.

Gaetz has fervently denied the allegations against him and said the investigation is part of an elaborate, multimillion dollar extortion scheme against him and his family.

However, Gaetz said he first learned of the alleged extortion plot in March, while the department’s investigation into the sex trafficking allegations had been underway for months. This doesn’t necessarily mean Gaetz’s claims of an extortion scheme are untrue, but it does indicate the department’s probe was not opened as a result of any such scheme.

The Florida lawmaker made headlines during Trump’s term in office for his full-throated defense of the former president and his endorsement of Trump’s outlandish conspiracy theories. But in the days since news of the Justice Department’s investigation broke, there hasn’t been a peep from Trumpworld.

In fact, as Insider reported last month, some in Trump’s orbit are secretly celebrating the conservative firebrand’s predicament, with one former White House staffer saying they “feel a little vindicated.”

“He’s the meanest person in politics,” this person told Insider.

A former Trump campaign aide echoed that sentiment to Politico, telling the outlet, “Anyone that has ever spent 10 minutes with the guy would realize he’s an unserious person.”

Others pointed to Gaetz’s defense in the wake of the allegations against him, and in particular his interview last week with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, which Carlson himself admitted was “one of the weirdest” he had ever conducted.

One Trump confidant agreed, telling Politico the interview was “an absolutely embarrassing trainwreck.”

Spokespeople for Gaetz and Trump did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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A former Gaetz adviser said sex-trafficking allegations are ‘baseless’ but gave no evidence and said he hasn’t spoken to the congressman in months

Matt Gaetz
CHEYENNE, WY – JANUARY 28: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) holds a phone to the microphone as Donald Trump Jr. speaks remotely to a crowd during a rally against Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on January 28, 2021 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Gaetz and Trump Jr. added their voices to a growing effort to vote Cheney out of office after she voted in favor of impeaching Donald Trump.

  • A former aide for Rep. Matt Gaetz said the sex trafficking allegations against him were “baseless.”
  • Nathaniel Nelson did not provide any evidence and also said he hadn’t spoken to Gaetz in months.
  • The DOJ is investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in 2019.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

During a press conference on Monday, a former adviser for GOP rep. Matt Gaetz said sex-trafficking allegations surrounding the congressman are baseless but said he hadn’t spoken with Gaetz in months.

Former Air Force Capt. Nathaniel Nelson, who served as Gaetz’s director of military affairs, said he was contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shortly after news broke that the Department of Justice was investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in 2019 and broke federal sex-trafficking laws.

Nelson said he was questioned about whether or not he knew of Gaetz’s activity after members of the media tipped off the FBI that Nelson may have resigned because he knew about illegal activities.

“I’m here to state this morning that nothing could be further from the truth,” Nelson said at the press conference in front of his home. “Neither I, nor any other member of Congressman Gaetz’s staff had any knowledge of illegal activities.”

Nelson also said the allegations were “baseless.”

“This baseless claim against me leaves me further convinced that the allegations against Congressman Gaetz are likewise fabricated,” he said.

Nelson said he already had pre-arranged plans to leave Gaetz in October 2020 to enter the private sector. However, the former aide did not provide any evidence against the allegations.

“I’m not here to provide any degree of evidence in support of Congressman Gaetz, only to discredit these baseless allegations,” he said. “I don’t have any specific knowledge on the investigation or any of the facts that are involved with the investigation.”

He also added that he hasn’t spoken with Gaetz for some time. “You know, I haven’t had the opportunity to speak to Congressman Gaetz in several months,” Nelson said.

In response to reports on Nelson’s FBI questioning, Gaetz said on Twitter: “The FBI is literally running down false media rumors. They are investigating people, not crimes.”

Gaetz’s office did not reply to Insider’s request for comment.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at salarshani@insider.com

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Rep. Matt Gaetz reportedly bragged about the ‘access’ to younger women he got from a former government official who was indicted for sex trafficking

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz.

  • Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz reportedly bragged about how he got “access” to women from a Florida tax collector who’s since been indicted for sex trafficking.
  • The former tax collector, Joel Greenberg, introduced Gaetz to the women, The Washington Post reported.
  • The DOJ is now investigating whether Gaetz had sex with a minor and broke sex trafficking laws.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that Rep. Matt Gaetz rescheduled Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign events in 2018 so that they’d “end the night in a college town.”

Gaetz was assisting DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaign at the time, and sources told the outlet that Gaetz sought to hang out with younger crowds during the election.

A source also told The Post that Gaetz boasted about the “access” to women he got from associating with Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector who was indicted last year on 14 felony counts, including carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17. Greenberg has pleaded not guilty.

“Matt was never shy about talking about his relationship to Joel and the access to women that Joel provided him,” the source said. The Post also reported that Gaetz showed photos and videos of nude women to people involved in Florida politics.

People who heard Gaetz and Greenberg discuss their encounters said that Greenberg introduced Gaetz to women, and that Gaetz had sex with them and later showed photos of them to people in Florida.

“What these videos implied was that there was something of a sexual nature going on with everyone,” the source told The Post.

Friday’s revelation follows news from the New York Times that the Justice Department has been investigating whether Gaetz broke federal sex trafficking laws and whether he engaged in an illegal sexual relationship with a 17-year-old.

The Times also revealed that Gaetz’s investigation was linked to an investigation into Greenberg and that the two men had paid women for sex at various Florida hotels. As part of the wide-ranging investigation, the Justice Department is said to be examining whether Gaetz used campaign money during his encounters with women.

On Thursday, CNN reported that Gaetz showed House colleagues photos and videos of nude women and bragged about his sex life.

The Post’s reporting on Friday indicates that Gaetz may have engaged in the same behavior at parties with Greenberg and others involved in Florida politics.

Earlier Friday, Gaetz’s spokesperson, Luke Ball, resigned from his position, citing principle as the reason, according to NBC News.

“I have never paid for sex. I have never had sex with an underage person as an adult,” Gaetz told the Post. “I have dated women in college and graduate school, and have boasted about how great they are across the board, as boyfriends do. At times women I have dated have joined me at campaign events.”

Gaetz is also alleged to have sought sexual encounters on websites like Seeking Arrangements and is reported to have used drugs and given drugs to a woman during at least one of the experiences, according to the Times.

According to the Post, an anonymous complaint was submitted to former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office in 2018 about Gaetz making a young female staffer uncomfortable. Ryan’s staffers reportedly had a conversation with Gaetz, but the issue was not looked into any further.

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Matt Gaetz’s spokesperson resigns as the lawmaker faces a sex-trafficking scandal

cpac matt gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference being held in the Hyatt Regency on February 26, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

  • Matt Gaetz’s spokesperson, Luke Ball, has resigned.
  • The resignation comes as Gaetz faces a growing scandal over whether he broke sex-trafficking laws.
  • Gaetz denied the allegations against him and said he never paid women for sex.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz’s spokesperson, Luke Ball, has resigned amid a growing firestorm over whether the Florida lawmaker had sexual relationships with underage women and broke federal sex-trafficking laws.

NBC News first reported on Ball’s resignation, citing a person familiar with the matter, who said he left his job out of principle.

Gaetz’s office put out a statement after, saying: “The Office of Congressman Matt Gaetz and Luke Ball have agreed that it would be best to part ways. We thank him for his time in our office, and we wish him the best moving forward.”

Ball did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the Justice Department was investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in 2019 and broke federal sex-trafficking laws.

A slew of other details about the investigation have surfaced in the days since.

  • In addition to looking into whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old in 2019, investigators are examining if he paid for her to travel with him and broke federal sex-trafficking laws by doing so.
  • According to The Times, the 17-year-old at the heart of the Gaetz probe is the same girl who was involved in a felony sex-trafficking count against Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector who was charged with 14 counts and pleaded not guilty.
  • Investigators are said to be examining whether Gaetz used campaign money to fund travel and other expenses for women.
  • The Times reported that the inquiry is focusing on Gaetz and Greenberg’s interactions with “multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments.”
  • One person familiar with the conversations told The Times that Gaetz told the women to say that he paid for dinners and hotel rooms as part of their dates if anyone asked about the nature of their relationships.
  • People familiar with the encounters told The Times that some of the men and women, including Gaetz, took MDMA before having sex, and that in some cases the Florida lawmaker asked the women to find others who may want to have sex with him and his friends.
  • ABC News reported that the sex probe is focusing not just on Gaetz’s conduct in his home state of Florida but in other states as well.

Gaetz has denied ever paying for sex and claims the investigation into him is part of an elaborate scheme to extort his family for $25 million.

“Matt Gaetz has never paid for sex,” his office told The Times on Thursday. “Matt Gaetz refutes all the disgusting allegations completely. Matt Gaetz has never ever been on any such websites whatsoever. Matt Gaetz cherishes the relationships in his past and looks forward to marrying the love of his life.”

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Rep. Matt Gaetz reportedly showed nude photos of women to lawmakers and bragged about his sexual exploits

matt gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz.

  • Gaetz showed lawmakers nude photos of women and bragged about his sexual exploits, CNN reported.
  • “It was a point of pride” for Gaetz, one person told the outlet.
  • CNN said there was no indication the photos were tied to a sex-trafficking investigation into Gaetz.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A new report from CNN said Rep. Matt Gaetz showed lawmakers nude photos of women he said he had slept with. He showed off these photos both in private and on the House floor, CNN reported, and bragged about his sexual exploits.

Thursday’s development comes as Gaetz is facing a firestorm over the revelation that the Justice Department is investigating whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, which would violate federal sex-trafficking laws.

CNN said there was no evidence the nude photos Gaetz showed to lawmakers were connected to the Justice Department’s investigation.

Earlier Thursday, CNN reported investigators were looking into whether Gaetz misused campaign funds to pay for his travel.

After The New York Times reported on the existence of the Justice Department’s inquiry, Gaetz went on a Twitter and media blitz, alleging that the investigation into him was part of an elaborate plot to extort his family for $25 million. He called the allegations against him “horrible” and said that while he was “generous” with women he previously dated, he was “absolutely” confident none of them were underage.

The Florida congressman also said he was being targeted because he’s an “outspoken conservative.”

He said the allegations were part of an “organized criminal extortion” of him and that “the people pushing these lies are targets … of the ongoing extortion investigation.” He added that he and his family had been cooperating in an FBI investigation into the matter, and he provided emails to Politico on Wednesday that appeared to back up his statements.

Gaetz accused David McGee, a former DOJ prosecutor who now works at the law firm Beggs & Lane, of spearheading the alleged extortion plot and said that his father, Don Gaetz, was first contacted about it on March 16. McGee said earlier this week that Gaetz’s allegation was “totally false” and has since declined to comment or not responded to requests for comment.

It’s unlikely that the sex-trafficking investigation was part of an extortion plot, given that it was launched months before Gaetz said his father was contacted.

His claim that he’s being targeted because he’s an “outspoken conservative” also doesn’t hold up, since the inquiry was opened under a Republican administration and while William Barr – a staunch Trump loyalist with strong conservative credentials – was attorney general. Barr and other senior Trump appointees were briefed on the investigation when it was launched and green-lighted it, The Times reported.

A spokesperson for Gaetz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Matt Gaetz’s claim that the DOJ’s sex-trafficking probe into him is part of an extortion scheme doesn’t add up

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks to the media outside of the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) during the continued House impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol on October 30, 2019 in Washington, DC. State Department special adviser for Ukraine Catherine Croft and State Department official Christopher Anderson are expected to appear for closed-door depositions as part of the impeachment inquiry and the latest in a line of career diplomats who have complied with a House subpoena. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz said a DOJ investigation into whether he broke sex-trafficking laws is based on “lies” and “false” allegations.
  • Gaetz said the allegations are part of a weeks-long attempt to extort his family for $25 million.
  • But the DOJ launched its investigation late last summer, well before Gaetz said his family was first contacted in the alleged extortion scheme.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz took to Twitter and the conservative media airwaves on Tuesday to push back on news that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was investigating whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and broke federal sex-trafficking laws.

On Twitter, Gaetz said the investigation was based on “lies” being pushed against him by a former DOJ official in an effort to extort his family. But the lawmaker’s statements about the alleged extortion scheme don’t line up with the timeline of the DOJ’s probe.

“Over the past several weeks, my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name,” Gaetz tweeted. “We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter … and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals.”

“No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets … of the ongoing extortion investigation,” he continued. “I demand the DOJ immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicates their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations.”

During an appearance on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Gaetz added another crucial data point to the timeline: he said that someone involved in the alleged extortion scheme texted his father on March 16 “demanding a meeting wherein a person demanded $25 million in exchange for making horrible sex trafficking allegations against me go away.”

Read more: Republicans are unloading on Rep. Matt Gaetz in gossipy texts and snide asides amid reports of a DOJ sex investigation: ‘He’s the meanest person in politics’

However, Katie Benner, one of the New York Times reporters who broke the story about the DOJ’s sex-trafficking probe, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday that the investigation into Gaetz was launched late last summer and had been underway for more than six months by the time Gaetz said his father was contacted.

As one DOJ veteran told Insider, the timeline doesn’t necessarily mean Gaetz’s claims of an extortion scheme are untrue, but it does indicate the department’s probe was not launched as a result of any such scheme.

“One can be guilty of a crime and still be shaken down to, theoretically, make the investigation go away,” Jeffrey Cramer, a longtime former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the DOJ, said.

Gaetz has not been charged with any crime, and he called the allegations being investigated “horrible” and “verifiably false.”

On Carlson’s show, Gaetz also claimed the former DOJ employee who tried to extort him was David McGee, who is now an attorney at Beggs & Lane, a law firm based in Pensacola. McGee’s biography on the firm’s website says he spent six years as first assistant at a US attorney’s office and seven years as the lead attorney for the DOJ’s Organized Crime Task Force.

In a statement to The Daily Beast, McGee called Gaetz’s allegation “completely, totally false” and “a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that Matt Gaetz is apparently about to be indicted for sex trafficking underage girls.”

A spokesperson for Gaetz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Tucker Carlson says his interview with Rep. Matt Gaetz about the DOJ’s investigation into the lawmaker was ‘one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted’

tucker carlson matt gaetz
Matt Gaetz appears on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to address a DOJ investigation into him.

  • Matt Gaetz appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to discuss a DOJ investigation into whether he broke sex-trafficking laws.
  • Gaetz said the inquiry was based on a “horrible allegation” and a “lie” that’s “verifiably false.”
  • Carlson said it was one of the “weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted” and added, “I don’t think that clarified much.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz appeared on Fox News’ primetime show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Tuesday evening to address an ongoing Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into whether Gaetz engaged in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and broke federal sex-trafficking laws.

Carlson struggled to make sense of his discussion with Gaetz, saying afterward, “You just saw our Matt Gaetz interview, that was one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted.”

“That story just appeared in the news a couple of hours ago and on the certainty that there’s always more than you read in the newspaper, we immediately called Matt Gaetz and asked him to come on and tell us more, which as you saw, he did,” Carlson added. “I don’t think that clarified much, but it certainly showed this is a deeply interesting story and we’ll be following it. Don’t quite understand it. But we’ll bring you more when we find out.”

The New York Times first reported on the DOJ’s investigation, and Gaetz confirmed its existence to The Times and the news website Axios. In a series of tweets, Gaetz claimed the investigation was part of an “organized criminal extortion” scheme against him by a former DOJ employee, and he called The Times story “a planted leak.”

Here’s what Gaetz said on Carlson’s show:

  • “It is a horrible allegation and it is a lie,” and it is “verifiably false,” Gaetz said. “People can look at my travel records and see that that is not the case.”
  • Gaetz claimed the ex-DOJ employee behind the purported scheme was David McGee, who is now a lawyer at the firm Beggs & Lane. McGee told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that Gaetz’s allegation was “completely, totally false” and “a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that Matt Gaetz is apparently about to be indicted for sex trafficking underage girls.”
  • Gaetz said McGee texted his father on March 16 “demanding a meeting wherein a person demanded $25 million in exchange for making horrible sex trafficking allegations against me go away.”
  • He said that his family was “so troubled” by the demand that they contacted their local FBI field office, and that the DOJ and FBI were “so concerned about this attempted extortion of a member of Congress that they asked my dad to wear a wire, which he did with the former Department of Justice official.”
  • Gaetz reiterated his demand that the department release what he said were audio recordings that were made “under their supervision and at their direction” which would “prove my innocence” and show the allegations against him were “merely intended to try to bleed my family out of money.”

The Times reported that the DOJ’s inquiry into Gaetz is focusing on two encounters he allegedly had with the 17-year-old in 2019.

During his appearance on Carlson’s show, Gaetz said the FBI had “threatened” a “friend” he brought to dinner with Carlson and his wife two years ago.

“I can say that actually, you and I went to dinner about two years ago, your wife was there and I brought a friend of mine, you’ll remember her, and she was actually threatened by the FBI, told that if she wouldn’t cop to the fact that somehow, I was involved in some pay-for-play scheme, that she could face trouble,” Gaetz said.

He continued: “And so, I do believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to smear me. Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime, and I’m just troubled that the lack of any sort of legitimate investigation into me would then permute, would then convert into this extortion attempt.”

Carlson replied: “I don’t remember the woman you’re speaking of or the context at all, honestly.”

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Rep. Matt Gaetz claims the DOJ’s investigation into whether he violated sex trafficking laws is part of ‘an organized criminal extortion’ scheme against him

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz.

  • GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz claimed a federal probe into whether he broke sex trafficking laws is part of an “extortion” scheme against him.
  • “No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets … of the ongoing extortion investigation,” he tweeted.
  • Gaetz’s tweets came after NYT reported that investigators are looking into whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
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Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida claimed on Tuesday that an ongoing Justice Department investigation into whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws is part of an “organized criminal extortion” scheme against his family.

The New York Times first reported on the investigation, and Gaetz confirmed its existence to The Times and the news website Axios.

According to the reports, investigators are said to be examining whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel with him, which would violate sex trafficking statutes.

The Republican lawmaker said on Twitter that the investigation was launched on a false premise and based on “lies” being pushed against him by a former Justice Department official.

“Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name,” Gaetz tweeted. “We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter … and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals.”

Gaetz continued: “No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets … of the ongoing extortion investigation. I demand the DOJ immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicate their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations.”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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