GOP Rep. Gaetz denies sexual misconduct claims, says allegations are part of elaborate extortion plot

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)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCTOBER 30: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) spoke to the media on October 30, 2019 in Washington, D.C.  (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 7:44 AM PT – Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Republican congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is fighting to protect his name as the Justice Department goes public with an investigation into his alleged involvement in the possible sex trafficking of a minor.

Gaetz responded to the allegations in an interview Tuesday. He said the claims are “verifiably false” and are part of an elaborate scheme to extort him as well as his family for $25 million. He went on to name former DOJ official David McGee” as the man who he believes planted the leak with the FBI. Yet, McGee has refuted Gaetz’s accusations byclaiming they are merely a way to distract from the investigation.

The allegations were first brought to light in an article published by The New York Times on Tuesday, which cited three sources briefed on the matter. The article claimed the inquiry into Gaetz was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under then-Attorney General William Barr to determine whether congressman had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travel back in 2019.

Gaetz confirmed he and his father are cooperating with federal authorities. He added that the FBI instructed his father to wear a wire after they were reportedly approached by people who said they could “make the investigation go away.” The representative demanded the immediate release of those tapes, which he said implicate McGee and prove the allegations are false.

In a second interview, Gaetz said he has no plans to step down from his seat in the House. So far, no charges have been brought against him.

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