A former staffer for GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) has slammed the allegations against the congressman, and said that two FBI agents questioned him last week, after news of the Department of Justice’s investigation into Gaetz’s alleged sex-trafficking broke.
Gaetz has denied the allegations.
Nathan Nelson, a former director of military affairs for Gaetz, told reporters during a Monday press conference that when agents visited his home to question him, they made it appear that they thought Nelson resigned due to him having knowledge of the congressman’s involvement in illegal conduct.
“I’m here to state this morning that nothing could be further from the truth,” Nelson said at the press conference held in northwest Florida. “Neither I, nor any other member of Congressman Gaetz’s staff had any knowledge of illegal activities.”
“This baseless claim against me leaves me further convinced that the allegations against Congressman Gaetz are likewise fabricated and merely an attempt to discredit a very vocal conservative,” Nelson said at the conference put together by Gaetz’s office.
While stating that he continues to be “loosely affiliated” with the congressman’s office as an unpaid adviser, Nelson said that he informed Gaetz’s office that he had talked with FBI agents, but that he has not spoken to the congressman personally in months.
The same day as the Nelson press conference, Gaetz published an op-ed in The Washington Examiner defending himself again, writing, “I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.
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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Returns After 7-Year Journey with Asteroid Samples
After a remarkable seven-year voyage spanning nearly 4 billion miles in space, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is set to make its triumphant return to Earth on Sunday. OSIRIS-REx, an acronym for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer, was launched in 2016 on a groundbreaking mission to collect material from an asteroid in space.
The capsule, holding a precious cargo of nearly 9 ounces of rocks, dust, and dirt gathered from the asteroid Bennu, will detach from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft before making an anticipated landing inside the Defense Department’s Utah Test and Training Range. According to reports from Fox News, teams from NASA and Lockheed Martin, the vehicle’s builder, will eagerly await its arrival.
Describing the precision required for this endeavor, OSIRIS-REx Deputy Project Manager Michael Moreau likened it to a challenging game of accuracy, stating, “It’s like putting a dart board at one end of a basketball court and throwing the dart from the other end and getting a bull’s-eye.”
This years-long mission holds significant scientific importance. It will aid researchers in investigating the formation of planets, shed light on the origins of life, and enhance NASA’s understanding of asteroids that could pose potential threats to Earth.
Furthermore, the collected sample is expected to offer “generations of scientists a window into the time when the Sun and planets were forming about 4.5 billion years ago,” according to NASA.
Moreover, the mission could contribute crucial information to Earth’s defense against a potential collision with Bennu, an asteroid roughly the size of the Empire State Building. NASA estimates a 1-in-2,700 chance of Bennu impacting Earth in the latter half of the 2100s.
The journey leading up to this momentous return has been a long and meticulous one. OSIRIS-REx arrived at Bennu in 2018 and spent two years closely orbiting the asteroid, gathering vital data.
In 2020, the spacecraft made history with a successful landing on Bennu’s surface, collecting a “touch and go” sample in under a minute. Despite an initial setback due to a jammed door that led to the loss of some space dust, the sample collected still surpasses the mission’s requirement of two ounces.
Once the capsule safely touches down in the Utah desert, a dedicated NASA team will transport the precious material to a meticulously clean environment. Subsequently, the Bennu samples will find their way to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Approximately 70% of the asteroid material will be preserved for future research endeavors, allowing scientists worldwide to delve into its mysteries. Additionally, a portion of the sample will be shared with the Japanese Space Exploration Agency as part of an exchange for samples collected by Japan’s Hayabusa spacecraft.
Looking ahead, OSIRIS-REx is set to continue its mission by studying another asteroid named Apophis, named after a demon serpent in ancient Egyptian mythology, symbolizing evil and chaos. This ambitious mission marks another chapter in humanity’s ongoing exploration of our solar system and beyond.
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