Representative Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) accused a former Department of Justice official of using a concocted underage sex investigation to blackmail him and his family to the tune of $25 million, during a Tuesday night appearance on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Gaetz identified the alleged extortionist as David McGee, a former Florida DOJ official who now works for the law firm Beggs & Lane, hours after The New York Times reported that he was being investigated by federal authorities for allegedly conducting a sexual relationship with a minor.
McGee did not immediately respond to a request for comment but denied Gaetz’s allegation in comments to the Daily Beast.
“This is a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that Matt Gaetz is apparently about to be indicted for sex trafficking underage girls,” McGee said.
Investigators are looking into whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws that make it illegal for an adult to induce someone under the age of 18 to cross state lines for sex, three people familiar with the investigation told the Times. The people said the investigation was part of a probe into Joel Greenberg, a Florida tax collector and ally of Gaetz who was indicted in 2020 on a number of charges, including sex trafficking of a minor.
The investigation into Gaetz began in the final months of the Trump administration, during William Barr’s tenure as U.S. attorney general. The encounters between Gaetz and the unidentified woman, believed to have been 17 years old at the time, occurred two years ago, two of the people said.
In a Twitter thread Tuesday night, Gaetz claimed that the allegations were part of an extortion effort by an unnamed former Department of Justice official. He also claimed that the FBI was working with his father to expose the extortion attempt.
…and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals. The planted leak to the FBI tonight was intended to thwart that investigation.
No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets…
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) March 30, 2021
Gaetz then identified the DOJ official as McGee during a subsequent appearance on Carlson’s program.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 31, 2021
The news comes the same day that Axios reported Gaetz is considering leaving Congress to become a host on right-wing media outlet Newsmax. A source said Gaetz has already held preliminary discussions with the network.
Gaetz has previously considered running for Senate in Alabama and Florida, although neither of those initiatives panned out. The congressman is a staunch ally of former President Trump, telling Politico in December that Trump should run for office again in 2024.