U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is the subject of a sex-trafficking investigation and appeared on the Fox News Channel this week to address the ordeal.
For his part, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) announced in a cable television interview of his own that he believes his GOP colleague should be removed from the House Judiciary Committee as a result of the criminal allegations.
“A very serious charge”
“During this entire bizarre interview, Congressman Matt Gaetz does not deny a federal investigation against him that is looking at whether or not he had sexual relations with a 17-year-old girl and that she traveled across state lines and was induced by him to do so with payments or hotel stays and so on,” Lieu asserted during a segment of MSNBC’s The Last Word.
On its own, Lieu described the allegation as “a very serious charge” that would constitute a felony in Gaetz’s home state.
He went on to declare that the Florida Republican is “in deep trouble, and that’s why he needs to be removed from the House Judiciary Committee.”
In his defense, Gaetz told Fox News personality Tucker Carlson that the minor female in question “doesn’t exist,” insisting that the “horrible allegation” against him is untrue.
“The New York Times is running a story that I have traveled with a 17-year-old woman, and that is verifiably false,” he added.
“Attempted extortion of a member of Congress”
Instead, Gaetz claimed that the story is part of an effort by former U.S. Attorney David McGee to blackmail him and his family out of millions of dollars.
“On March 16, my 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,” Gaetz said, stating that relatives involved in the alleged incident were “so troubled” that they approached the FBI with details.
“And the FBI and the Department of Justice 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 added, calling on the government to release audio recordings he claimed would clear his name.
“So here is what needs to happen next,” Gaetz insisted. “The FBI and the Department of Justice must release the tapes that are in their possession that were done at their direction.”
McGee has been adamant in his denial of any claims being made against him, declaring: “It is completely false. It’s a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that he’s under investigation for sex trafficking of minors. I have no connection with that case at all, other than, one of a thousand people who have heard the rumors.”