Update (0850ET): Gaetz just appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight, where he offered more details of the alleged extortion plot that he claims precipitated the investigation into his alleged involvement with a 17-year-old girl (who is now 19, since the misconduct allegedly took place 2 years ago).
During the interview, Gaetz brought up the fact that Tucker was once accused of a "horrible sex act" that also "did not happen." Tucker looked visibly uncomfortable as the Congressman brought up the decades-old allegations.
Gaetz continued on, repeating that he was being framed by elements within the DoJ, and calling on the Department to release audio recordings made when his father wore a wire at the FBI's behest during what Gaetz portrayed as part of an investigation into an alleged extortionist.
After being questioned by Tucker, Gaetz even named his alleged extortionist: David McGee, a former first assistant US attorney, who no longer works at the DoJ, but rather works as a private attorney at a law firm in Pensacola. Gaetz said the recordings he mentioned above were made at the offices of McGee's law firm.
Tucker later clarified that he had never met the "mentally ill viewer" who had accused him of a sex crime, though Tucker said he agreed with Gaetz that being falsely accused is terrible, and that it "happens a lot."
WATCH: Rep. Matt Gaetz responds on Tucker Carlson Tonight to allegations of sexual misconduct:— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) March 31, 2021
He says a former DOJ official named David McGee is trying to extort is family for money
He says that the FBI and DOJ have audio recordings that will prove his innocence. pic.twitter.com/J95AEFtxsr
On Fox, Gaetz says “the FBI and the Department of Justice” need to release tapes to clear his name. Says “those tapes will show that I am innocent.” Says this was an effort to “smear” his name
Gaetz went so far as to claim that Tucker had once met a woman, whom Gaetz had brought to a dinner engagement, who was "threatened" by the FBI and told "if she wouldn't cop to the fact that I was involved in some pay-for-play scheme that she could face charges. I do believe there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to smear me. Providing flights and transportation for people you're dating who are of legal age is not a crime."
After returning from a commercial break, Carlson remarked that the interview with Gaetz was "one of the weirdest interviews I've ever conducted."
* * *
Shortly after Axios reported that Matt Gaetz, a conservative pro-Trump Republican from the Florida panhandle with a national profile, planned to quit Congress and take a job at Newsmax, the NYT has published some bombshell allegations. The paper reported Tuesday evening that Gaetz is a "subject" in a federal investigation examining whether he had illegal sexual relations with a minor (an unnamed, unidentified woman who was reportedly 17 at the time). Investigators are also looking into whether the woman traveled with Gaetz, which would constitute another federal offense.
The investigation was reportedly opened during the final months of the Trump Administration before AG William Barr left office. The NYT says Gaetz wasn't targeted directly, but that the behavior in question is somehow tied to a Florida official named Joel Greenberg who was indicted last summer on a range of charges including sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl. Greenberg has since resigned his post as tax collector in Seminole County (north of Orlando) and is in jail awaiting trial after having his bail revoked.
No charges have been brought against Gaetz, and his criminal exposure remains unclear. Gaetz addressed the charges directly in a statement to the NYT, saying he believed the investigation might have resulted from somebody's attempt to "to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward." Gaetz told the NYT "I only know it has to do with women," in regards to the investigation.
Gaetz added that the investigation might be part of a scheme to extort his family for $25MM, before telling a reporter that both he and his father had worn a wire while cooperating with the FBI after being approached by people who said they could make the investigation "go away", though he didn't elaborate. He also told the NYT in a later interview that "it is verifiably false that I have traveled with a 17-ear-old woman."
In a statement published later, Gaetz said "The allegations against me are as searing as they are false," Gaetz said in an interview. 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."
Gaetz also published a statement on twitter reiterating his comments about his family cooperating with the FBI, after becoming "victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25MM." The part about the involvement of a corrupt DoJ official differed from his earlier statement.
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.— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 30, 2021
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. The planted leak to the FBI tonight was intended to thwart that investigation.— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 30, 2021
No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets...
...of the ongoing extortion investigation.— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 30, 2021
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 38-year-old congressman proposed to his girlfriend at Mar a Lago late last year. But he made headlines months ago after proclaiming that he "had a son", later explaining the son, Nestor Galban, 19, was actually the brother of his then-girlfriend. "He is a part of my family story," Gaetz told People magazine in June. "My work with Nestor, our family, no element of my public service could compare to the joy that our family has brought me."
The nature of Greenberg's relationship to Gaetz is unclear. But one thing is for sure: progressives on twitter are having a field day as Gaetz's plans to jump to Newsmax evaporate. They're also slamming him for hypocrisy, after Gaetz repeatedly criticized top Democrats for ties to convicted pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.
It's kinda surprising that Matt Gaetz leaked he's retiring early from politics. I figured he'd still be attracted to his career given that it's still pretty young.— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) March 30, 2021
Matt Gaetz belongs in prison. For so many reasons.— Scott Dworkin (@funder) March 30, 2021
Gaetz was first elected to Congress in 2016. As a member of the Florida State Legislature and the scion of a Republican political family,
Democratic Congressman is already pushing to have Gaetz stripped of his House Judiciary Committee assignment, an echo of how Democrats disenfranchised Marjorie Taylor-Greene.
Rep Matt Gaetz should be taken off the @HouseJudiciary Committee until the @TheJusticeDept investigation is completed. He should not be sitting on a Congressional Committee with oversight over the DOJ while the Department is investigating him. https://t.co/TKRfSyCgHe— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) March 30, 2021
The DOJ does not take lightly opening a criminal investigation against a Member of Congress. Hard to believe root cause of problem would be a single former DOJ official making up allegations. There would be an entire team of federal agents & prosecutors investigating Matt Gaetz. https://t.co/kLx1CP5hjJ— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) March 30, 2021
There's clearly a lot going on here, and we suspect more information about the investigation, and Gaetz's claims, will surface in the coming days. In the meantime, one twitter user pointed out that Gaetz's extortion claims aren't actually all that far-fetched.
Explosive allegations by Gaetz that we will undoubtedly learn more about.— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) March 30, 2021
Note that it is possible for him to be the victim of extortion and also be implicated in wrongdoing himself.
In other words, whether he was extorted and whether he committed a crime are separate issues. https://t.co/ja6Qa9usbw