Lawmakers urge Gaetz to resign as new details of DOJ probe emerge
Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is facing calls to resign as more details emerge amid the federal probe into his alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old.
The Justice Department is now focusing their investigation on Gaetz’s involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments, according to a new report by The New York Times.
Investigators believe Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector in Seminole County, Fla., who was indicted last year on a federal sex trafficking charge and other crimes, initially met the women through a website that exchanges dates for gifts and travel, according to The Times. Greenberg then introduced the women to Gaetz, the report said.
Text messages and mobile payment receipts reportedly indicate Gaetz and Greenberg instructed the women to meet at specific locations and told them the amount of money they were willing to pay.
In some cases, Gaetz asked the women to help find others who would be interested in having sex with him and his friends, people familiar with the matter told The Times.
A new report by CNN also alleges that Gaetz showed lawmakers, including while on the House floor, photos and videos of nude women and talked about his sexual relationships with them.
Sources told CNN that Gaetz displayed the images of women on his phone and talked about having sex with them to his colleagues.
“It was a point of pride,” one of the sources said of Gaetz.
CNN noted that there has been no indication these alleged pictures are connected to the DOJ investigation.
Meghan McCain, conservative commentator and daughter of former Republican senator the late John McCain, urged Gaetz to resign following the CNN report.
“This is vile, abhorrent and beneath the office he holds. No woman in congress should feel comfortable working with him. Resign. (also don’t start with the cancel culture bull****, any man in any place would be fired for this garbage),” McCain tweeted.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said that Republicans would support removing Gaetz from his committee assignments if allegations that he traveled and had a sexual relationship with an underage girl are proven true.
“Those are serious implications. If it comes out to be true, yes, we would remove him if that’s the case,” McCarthy told Fox News on Tuesday. “But right now Matt Gaetz says that it’s not true and we don’t have any information. So let’s get all the information.”
Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) expressed similiar thoughts.
“If it’s true Rep Matt Gaetz engaged in sex trafficking, he needs to resign and be prosecuted. In the meantime, you can’t have Gaetz sitting on the Congressional Committee that has oversight over the Department that is investigating him,” Lieu tweeted.
Gaetz has denied any allegation of wrongdoing and said he is a victim of a $25 million extortion plot executed by David McGee, a former federal prosecutor.
“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,” Gaetz said in a statement. “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.”
Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy