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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

Summary List PlacementRepublican 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...

Matt Gaetz

Summary List Placement

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.”

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Gaetz also released a statement through his spokesperson and appeared on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to address the allegations on Tuesday.

At one point during the interview, Gaetz appeared to suggest the FBI had “threatened” a “friend” he brought with him 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.”

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

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