Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican under investigation by the Department of Justice over possible sexual misconduct and other crimes, says he will not be resigning.
According to The Hill, Gaetz said Friday that reports he will resign are “false.” He also said in a text message to a Hill reporter that it’s “very safe” to say he isn’t planning to exit Congress.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that the Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz, 38, violated federal sex trafficking laws by having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paying for her to travel over state lines. According to the Times, the investigation was opened under Attorney General William Barr in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency. It’s part of a larger investigation into one of his political allies, a former Florida county tax collector named Joel Greenber indicted last summer on multiple federal charges, including for the sex trafficking of a minor. Greenberg has pleaded not guilty.
Gaetz initially responded with evolving and somewhat confusing explanations. He denies that he traveled or had a relationship with a 17-year-old, but he also told Axios that the Department of Justice was “trying to criminalize my sexual conduct, you know, when I was a single guy.” Then he claimed he is he victim of an extortion attempt by a former DOJ official and attempted to suggest that the investigation reported by the NYT was in fact connected to that.
This culminated Tuesday night in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson in which, among other things, Gaetz attempted to suggest Carlson had personal knowledge of his dating history.
Things only got worse from there. On Wednesday morning, the Washington Post reported that while the FBI is investigating Gaetz’s claim that he was being extorted, that investigation is entirely separate from the Justice Department’s investigation into possible sex trafficking of a minor.
Then on Thursday, CNN reported that the investigation had expanded to whether or not Gaetz used campaign funds as part of any alleged crimes, while the NY Times reported that the investigation is also looking into drug use, prostitution and other corruption that occurred as recently as 2020. Gaetz has denied the allegations.
Also on Thursday, he faced a new accusation wholly unrelated to the DoJ investigation: CNN reported that several congressional sources say Gaetz showed nude photos and videos of women to other members of Congress shortly after taking office in 2017.
No charges have been brought against Gaetz, who tweeted Thursday that the allegations against him are “FALSE.”