Former Rep. Katie Hill says it’s ‘gross’ to think that Matt Gaetz defended her to possibly cover up for ‘his own indiscretions’

katie hill matt gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida (L) and former Rep. Katie Hill of California (R).

  • Former Rep. Katie Hill had nude photos of her leaked without consent and Rep. Matt Gaetz defended her.
  • Gaetz is now implicated in a sex trafficking probe and other allegations of sexual misconduct.
  • Hill says now his defense of her feels “gross” and that she questions his motives.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When Democratic Rep. Katie Hill had sexually explicit photos of her published in a British tabloid alongside reports of a relationship with one of her staffers, she found an unlikely ally in GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Gaetz defended Hill after the House Ethics Committee opened a probe into the lawmaker over the alleged relationship.

“Who among us would look perfect if every ex leaked every photo/text?” Gaetz said in a tweet. “Katie isn’t being investigated by Ethics or maligned because she hurt anyone – it is because she is different.”

In light of recent reports that Gaetz shared nude photos of women on the House floor and is the subject of a sex-trafficking investigation, Hill views his defense of her differently.

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’

“I have to wonder about what his motives were when he defended me back then,” Hill said in an interview with CNN on Friday.

She said Gaetz’s defense of her had an impact because he spoke out while her Democratic colleagues did not, and that she had felt alone at the time.

“Knowing now that that could’ve been just because he was trying to kind of cover up for whatever his own indiscretions were or be able to use my name and invoke that defense later on,” Hill said. “It’s just gross.”

Gaetz has denied the allegations against him.

Hill resigned in 2019 amid the ethics probe and vowed to campaign against revenge porn, a term used for when nude photos of someone are shared without their consent.

In 2020, she came to Gaetz’s defense when people online were mocking him after he said he had raised a young man from Cuba as his son.

Hill blamed her ex-husband for the leaked photos of her, which she seemed to allude to in the CNN interview.

“Clearly I have a history of trusting men that I shouldn’t, and any criticism of my character assessment is probably warranted,” Hill said.

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

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GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Rep. Matt Gaetz ‘needs to resign’ amid sex-trafficking investigation

Adam Kinzinger
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) speaks during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Capitol Hill on March 10, 2021.

  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Rep. Matt Gaetz “needs to resign” in a tweet Thursday.
  • Kinzinger also linked to a story about money Gaetz reportedly sent to an accused sex trafficker.
  • Kinzinger is the first GOP lawmaker to call on Gaetz to resign amid a sex-trafficking investigation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In a tweet on Thursday, Rep. Adam Kinzinger became the first Republican lawmaker to call on his colleague Rep. Matt Gaetz to resign over sex-trafficking allegations.

Kinzinger tweeted a link to a story from The Daily Beast that alleges Gaetz paid money to an accused sex trafficker, who then sent the money to young women.

“Matt Gaetz needs to resign,” the Illinois representative said alongside a link to the story.

Read more: We asked 30 Republicans who know and have worked with Rep. Matt Gaetz if they’ve reached out to him as his sordid sex stories snowball. Their collective silence was deafening.

On Thursday, The Beast reported Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, paid $900 via Venmo to his political ally Joel Greenberg in 2018. Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector, then sent the money in various amounts to three young women. All of the women were over 18, according to The Daily Beast, which reviewed the Venmo transactions, and the funds were marked for “tuition” and “school.”

Greenberg was charged with multiple counts of sex trafficking last year, an investigation that prompted the probe into Gaetz. The Justice Department is also probing whether Gaetz violated sex-trafficking laws and whether he had a sexual relationship with an underage girl, The New York Times reported.

Greenberg and Gaetz have both denied the allegations against them. Gaetz has said he has “never” paid for sex or had a sexual relationship with a minor.

Republicans have largely been quiet on the accusations against Gaetz, including former President Donald Trump, of whom the lawmaker was a staunch supporter. Several of Trump’s aides had advised him against publicly defending Gaetz due to the seriousness of the accusations, The Times’s Maggie Haberman said.

The former president broke his silence on the matter Wednesday to dispute reports that said Gaetz had sought a preemptive pardon from Trump before he left office.

“Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon,” Trump said in a statement. “It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him.”

Two of Gaetz’s aides have abandoned the lawmaker since news of the investigation came out. Devin Murphy, Gaetz’s legislative director, told people he quit because “he was interested in writing bills, not working at TMZ,” according to The Times.

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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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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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DOJ investigation into Matt Gaetz looking at allegations he paid women, who were recruited online, for sex, NYT reports

matt gaetz
Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz

  • A DOJ inquiry into Matt Gaetz is looking into direct payments he made to women, The New York Times reported.
  • Sources told The Times Gaetz and a political ally connected with the women online.
  • Gaetz is currently being investigated over possible sex trafficking.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Justice Department investigation into GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida is looking into money he and a political ally paid directly to women via apps, The New York Times reported Thursday. According to the report, which cited several unnamed sources familiar with the case, the women said they were paid for sex.

Sources told The Times that Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector in Seminole County, Florida, who has been indicted on multiple counts including those related to sex trafficking, connected with women online.

Gaetz has denied ever paying for sex.

“Matt Gaetz has never paid for sex,” his office said in a statement to The Times. “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.”

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’

On Thursday, The Times, citing four people familiar with the investigation, reported that Gaetz and Greenberg are both being investigated for potentially having illegal sexual relationships with the same 17-year-old woman, as well as with other women who they allegedly paid to have sex.

The report claims that Greenberg introduced Gaetz to several women via websites like SeekingArrangements.com, where wealthy people and members can seek “sugar daddy” relationships, oftentimes sex and intimacy in exchange for gifts.

According to The Times report, Gaetz and Greenberg met various women at hotels in Florida and paid for sexual encounters.

Gaetz offered MDMA to at least one woman and used the drug himself during one sexual encounter, according to people familiar with the meetups and with the Justice Department interviews, The Times reported.

The Times reviewed Cash App transactions between Greenberg, Gaetz, and several women mentioned in the interviews.

In August 2020, Greenberg was indicted on fourteen counts, including sex trafficking charges related to a minor between the age of 14 and 17. According to the Orlando Sentinel, prosecutors allege that Greenberg used his access as an elected official to seek information on women via the Florida Driver and Vehicle Information Database and engage relationships with them.

On Tuesday, an explosive report from The New York Times revealed that Gaetz is under federal investigation for potentially violating federal sex trafficking laws. The Times reported that the investigation into Gaetz stemmed from the federal investigation into Greenberg.

The Times wrote that the Department of Justice is looking into “whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him,” possibly violating federal sex-trafficking laws. The investigation was opened by the Department of Justice in the final months of former President Donald Trump’s administration, according to The Times.

Since news of the sex-trafficking probe broke, the story has taken many turns.

Gaetz immediately denied the allegations and claimed that he and his family are victims of an extortion scheme. Hours after Tuesday’s story in The Times, Gaetz appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News, vehemently denying the allegations and repeating the extortion claims.

Gaetz said the extortion scheme started weeks ago, but the sex-trafficking investigation started last year.

On Thursday, separate from the investigation, CNN also reported that Gaetz showed House colleagues nude photos of women he had slept with, and bragged openly about his sex life.

Insider reached out to Gaetz’s office for additional comment.

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Nancy Pelosi said Matt Gaetz’s removal from Judiciary is ‘least that could be done’ if allegations of possible sex-trafficking investigation are true

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 09: Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) during a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing with members of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee on Capitol Hill on December 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. The U.S. Army has fired or suspended 14 leaders at Fort Hood following an investigation into the death of Specialist Vanessa Guillén and numerous other deaths and reports of sexual abuse on the military base. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Rep. Matt Gaetz is reportedly being looked at in a sex-trafficking investigation.

  • Nancy Pelosi said Matt Gaetz’s removal from the Judiciary Committee is “the least that could be done” if charges against him are true.
  • A bombshell report from The New York Times revealed that Gaetz was under federal investigation.
  • The GOP lawmaker later claimed the report was a “planted leak” as part of an extortion scheme.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Rep. Matt Gaetz’s removal from the House Judiciary Committee is “least that could be done” should a Department of Justice investigation find allegations of possible sex trafficking true.

Pelosi responded to the emerging scandal surrounding Gaetz during a weekly news conference, saying that she believes the investigation is an “important issue” that affects the “integrity of the Congress.”

Read more: Matt Gaetz is adding to his legal woes with a media blitz that could torpedo his defense if he’s charged with a federal sex crime, DOJ veterans say

Gaetz became embroiled in a political firestorm earlier this week after The New York Times first reported that the Justice Department was conducting a probe into whether he had a sexual relationship with a minor and violated federal sex-trafficking laws.

The Republican lawmaker responded by claiming that the allegations are false and that the investigation was part of an “organized criminal extortion” plot against him and that bombshell report from The Times was a “planted leak.”

“If in fact these allegations are true, of course, being removed from the Judiciary Committee is the least that could be done,” Pelosi told reporters during the press conference, “but again, I think from what we’ve heard so far, this would be a matter for the Ethics Committee.”

Pelosi’s remarks on the investigation followed a similar response by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who said it’s too early to judge Gaetz and the situation at hand.

“Those are serious implications. If it comes out to be true, yes, we would remove him if that’s the case,” McCarthy told Fox News on Wednesday. “But right now Matt Gaetz says that it’s not true, and we don’t have any information. So let’s get all the information.”

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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.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

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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