U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is charging that the New York Times interfered with an investigation of an attempted extortion of his family by claiming he is under investigation for a possible sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
The paper’s story Tuesday prompted Gaetz to appear on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, where he accused a former Justice Department attorney of demanding $25 million from his family to make the investigation go away.
The lawyer, David McGee, who is now in private practice in Pensacola, Florida, told the Washington Post that Gaetz’s statements are “totally false” and are an attempt to “distract” from the investigation.
The Republican congressman has been one of Donald Trump’s most vocal allies, siding with the former president in contesting the outcome of the 2020 election.
The Times, citing two sources, said the investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William P. Barr. Senior Justice Department officials in Washington were notified of the investigation because of Gaetz high profile, the paper said.
“The allegations were as searing as they are false,” Gaetz told Axios.
The congressman told Carlson: “What is happening is extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official. On March 16th, my father got a text message demanding a meeting wherein a person demanded $25 million in exchange for making horrible sex trafficking allegations of me go away.”
He said his family immediately contacted the FBI and his father wore “a wire” to record the threats.
He wants the FBI and the DOJ to release the recordings.
Gaetz said the Times story interfered with a plan to make a “down payment” on the extortion on Wednesday.
“This former Department of Justice official [on Wednesday] was supposed to be contacted by my father so that specific instructions could be given regarding the wiring of $4.5 million as a down payment on this bribe,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that tonight somehow The New York Times is leaking this information, smearing me, and ruining the investigation.”
In a series of tweets, Gaetz said that 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,” he wrote. “The planted leak to the New York Times 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.”
McGee, a lawyer at Beggs & Lane in Pensacola, said, “I have no connection with that case at all, other than, one of a thousand people who have heard the rumors.”
If there are recordings, they should be released, he said, DailyMail.com reported.
The allegations are part of a probe into a Florida official who was charged last year with sex trafficking a minor. But there have been no charges against Gaetz.
DailyMail.com said McGee admitted talking with Gaetz’s father, explaining it was “a pleasant conversation of a dad concerned about his son and the trouble his son was in.”
Gaetz said the alleged scheme came to light March 16 when his father received 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’s father is Don Gaetz, who served in the Florida state Senate for years.
Times’ reporter Katie Benner deflected Gaetz’s charges, saying it was Gaetz who “destroyed and blown up an FBI investigation,” DailyMail.com reported.
Axios reported it had seen screenshots of text messages, emails and documents from Gaetz purporting to show the alleged scheme.
Last winter, Gaetz charged when Democrats impeached Trump for a second time that it is Democrats who have lit “actual fires” in their attempts to destroy Trump’s presidency, including through bogus “collusion” claims and an impeachment prompted by an anonymous anti-Trump whistleblower who once worked for Joe Biden.
“The speaker said to us just moments ago ‘words matter,’ but apparently those words don’t matter when they’re uttered by Democrats,” he said at the time. “When the gentlelady from Massachusetts calls for ‘unrest in the streets.’ When the gentlelady from California brazenly brags that she called for people to get in the faces of those who serve and support the president.
“I denounce political violence from all ends of the spectrum. But make no mistake, the left in America has incited far more political violence than the right. For months, our cities burned, police stations burned, our businesses were shattered, and they said nothing, or they cheer-led for it, they fundraised for it, and they allowed it to happen in the greatest country in the world.”
He noted “some have cited the metaphor that the president lit the flame, but they lit actual flames, actual fires, and we had to put them out!”
In fact, Kamala Harris, then vice president-elect, raised funds for people arrested for rioting after the death of George Floyd. Other Democrats routinely praised the rioters responsible for an estimated $2 billion in damages.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley noted that Democrats have a long record of making “inciting” statements they insist are innocent.
“Democrats are pushing this dangerously vague standard while objecting to their own statements being given incriminating meaning by critics. For example, conservatives have pointed to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., calling for people to confront Republican leaders in restaurants; Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., insisted during 2020’s violent protests that ‘there needs to be unrest in the streets,’ while then-Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said ‘protesters should not let up’ even as many protests were turning violent. They can all legitimately argue that their rhetoric was not meant to be a call for violence, but this is a standard fraught with subjectivity,” he said.
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