UPDATE, 6:06 PM PT: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that it was “verifiably false” that he traveled with a 17-year-old female after a New York Times report that he was under investigation.
“People can look at my travel records and see that that is not the case,” he said.
He said that “what is happening is an extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official. Gaetz said that on March 16, his father got a text message “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 what was happening that they went to the local FBI, which was “so concerned about an 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.”
He called on the Justice Department and FBI to release the audio recordings which “will prove my innocence.”
He said that the former DOJ official was to be contacted by his father on Wednesday so that wiring instructions could be given for a payment of $4.5 million “as a down payment on this bribe.”
“I don’t think it is a coincidence that tonight, somehow, the New York Times is leaking this information, smearing me and ruining the investigation,” Gaetz said. Other outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, also have reported on the allegations.
He also gave the name of the person he said was extorting him, a person who is now in private practice.
Gaetz said he “only knows what he read in the New York Times” about the nature of the DOJ investigation.
“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, 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 lack of any sort of legitimate investigation into me would then permute, convert into this extortion attempt.”
Carlson said that he does not “remember the woman you are speaking of or the context at all.”
Gaetz denied that he had a sexual relationship with an underage woman and said that the 17-year-old “doesn’t exist.”
But Carlson still seemed confused over what transpired. He later called the Gaetz interview “one of the weirdest interviews I have ever conducted.”
Carlson said, “I don’t think that clarified much, but it certainly showed that this was a deeply interesting story and we will be following it. I don’t quite understand it.”
PREVIOUSLY: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a staunch and brash media defender of Donald Trump, said that he was under federal investigation for sexual conduct with women, but also is the victim of a criminal extortion attempt.
The allegations come just hours after Axios reported that Gaetz was considering not seeking reelection and instead would take a post at Newsmax.
The New York Times broke the story about a Justice Department investigation of Gaetz over “whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him.” Axios then posted on the investigation and spoke to the congressman for 13 minutes, in which he said,”The allegations of sexual misconduct against me are false. They are rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million … in exchange for making this case go away.”
On Twitter, Gaetz wrote, “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. 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. 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.”
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.
We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter…
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) March 30, 2021
Gaetz told Axios that the specifics of the investigation of him are “unclear,” and he said that his lawyers were told that he was “not a target but a subject of an investigation regarding sexual conduct with women.”
He will appear on Tuesday on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight.