On Tuesday, it was reported that sitting Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was being investigated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him. Various federal laws make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex with anyone in exchange for money or something of value.
The investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William Barr and has been going on for nearly a year. Moreover, Barr was briefed on the matter several times while DOJ investigators interviewed several witnesses and scrutinized documents, including travel records and financials. It is not likely that Trump was not kept in the loop about this ongoing inquiry.
Three sources confirmed to The New York Times that the examination of Gaetz is intended to be part of a broader investigation that included his political ally, Joel Greenberg. Mr. Greenberg was a local Florida politician who was indicted last summer on an array of charges, including sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl.
Mr. Greenberg, a close associate of Matt Gaetz, has posted an array of photos all over social media that show a visit to the White House in 2019 with Gaetz and other various excursions with Gaetz, Roger Stone, and Milo Yiannopoulos. Both Matt Gaetz and Roger Stone are considered close allies to former President Donald Trump and Trump pardoned Stone on federal criminal charges just before leaving office.
The Associated Press has also reported that at least one a high-profile Washington defense attorney and his law firm declined to represent Rep. Gaetz after the congressman reached out, seeking to hire them for his case. I will post a series of tweets, statements, and links to more detail below to explain all of the crucial aspects of what has been revealed in the last four days. I expect this story to evolve rapidly, so I will continue updating it as more information is confirmed.
After the DOJ investigation against Matt Gaetz was made public by The New York Times, Matt Gaetz went on Tucker Carlson’s program to defend himself. I recommend you open the tweet below to watch the video of that exchange on Fox News — you can also continue to read the thread attached to that tweet that assesses Gaetz’s possibly legal culpability and other factors.
Matt Gaetz posted a three-tweet thread on Twitter Tuesday evening, claiming that these accusations were all a part of an extortion attempt against his family for $25 million. In this tweet, Gaetz directly demanded the DOJ to “immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicate[s] their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations.”
On Wednesday, the Washington Post published an article that said Matt Gaetz had claimed that “former DoJ attorney David McGee had contacted Gaetz's father to demand a meeting.” In the same article, Mr. McGee disputed Gaetz’s claims saying he was never involved in any Gaetz investigation at the DOJ and that Matt Gaetz’s father “called me and asked to talk to me." The same day, the law firm of Beggs & Lane, where David McGee is a partner, issued a formal statement defending the prestigious career of McGee, and they called Gaetz's statements “false and defamatory.”
Matt Gaetz’s father, Donald Gaetz, a former Florida Senate president, confirmed on Wednesday that he is working with the FBI and had worn a wire on more than one occasion as part of an investigation into an alleged extortion plot. Both Matt and Don Gaetz claim former federal prosecutor David McGee organized the blackmail investigation. Note: a substantiated claim of blackmail against Matt Gaetz involving these allegations has no legal bearing on Gaetz’s culpability in any other crimes.
On Thursday, the Daily Beast published an article explaining why Matt Gaetz's colleagues aren't rushing to his defense in the press. The article referenced more than a half-dozen reporters knowing Gaetz’s illegal drug use, as well as his alleged penchant for young women. The outlet revealed that it was a well-known fact on Capitol Hill that Matt Gaetz was dating a college student in 2018 when she was an intern. The source also sent in a photo taken of a trash bin outside Gaetz's office at the end of a recent session — it had an empty Costco-size box of “Bareskin” Trojan condoms.
On Thursday night, CNN reported that Rep. Matt Gaetz had bragged about his sexual escapades to his Congressional colleagues. While on the House floor, Gaetz allegedly showed photos and videos of nude women he said he had slept with to other lawmakers. One of the videos purportedly showed a naked woman with a hula hoop, and a source referred to the exchange as "a point of pride."
Mainstream media begins reporting on a "sex game" Matt Gaetz created to keep score of sexual conquests on Friday. The Flordia Sun-Sentinel had already reported this information a year ago when they posted a series of tweet exchanges between State Rep. Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater). Latvala accused Gaetz of having founded a long-rumored sex game played among lawmakers in the Florida House a few years ago, “where members of the Florida House got "points" for sleeping with aides, interns, lobbyists, and married legislators.” Below is how sitting Congressman Matt Gaetz responded on a public platform:
On Friday, the Daily Beast published the text messages that led federal agents to make inquiries into Matt Gaetz.
The New York Times also released an article confirming that they have seen receipts documenting how Gaetz and Greenberg used Cash App and Apple Pay to make payments to women— the women in question allegedly told their friends that the payments were for sex.
NBC confirmed on Friday that Matt Gaetz’s Communications Director, Luke Ball, had resigned.
Amee Vanderpool writes the SHERO Newsletter and is an attorney, published author, contributor to newspapers and magazines, and analyst for BBC Radio. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @mamasreallyrule.
Paid subscriptions and one-time tributes embedded in each article allow me to keep publishing critical and informative work that is sometimes made available to the public — thank you. If you like this piece and want to support independent journalism further, you can forward this article to others, get a paid subscription or gift subscription, or donate once, as much as you like today.