By: Chuck Ross
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy committed on Wednesday to removing Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz from his position on the House Judiciary Committee if sexual misconduct allegations against him turn out to be true.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the Justice Department opened an investigation last year into whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
Gaetz responded in a statement that he has been informed that he is the subject of an investigation, but not a target. He also claimed that an attorney who formerly worked for the Justice Department has attempted to extort him for $25 million by publicizing details of the investigation.
McCarthy was asked about the allegations against Gaetz during an interview on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”
Host Dana Perino noted that McCarthy has called for California Rep. Eric Swalwell to be removed from the House Intelligence Committee because of his relationship years ago with a suspected Chinese spy.
“Those are serious implications,” McCarthy said of the allegations against Gaetz.
“If it comes to be true, yes, we would remove him if that was the case,” he continued.
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“Right now he says it is not true, and we don’t have any information. Let’s get all the information,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said that he has not heard from the Justice Department about Gaetz and has not spoken to the Florida Republican.
He then went on at length about Swalwell.
“The problem with Eric Swalwell is in the private sector he couldn’t pass a security clearance. He couldn’t get one. Why would he get one in Congress?” said McCarthy.
The New York Times reported that the Justice Department’s investigation of Gaetz is related to a federal case against Joel Greenberg, a former Florida state official. Greenberg was indicted last year on a slew of federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor.
Gaetz and Greenberg posed for photos together at the White House in 2019.
According to the Times, the government is investigating whether Gaetz violated laws that prohibit people from inducing minors across state lines for sex.
Gaetz on Tuesday denied having a relationship with anyone underage, and said in a statement that he and his father have been cooperating with federal investigators to uncover an extortion plot against him.
“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 the statement.
He said that his father, a former Florida state lawmaker, has worn a wire at the FBI’s direction in order to uncover the scheme.
“No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation,” said Gaetz.
He also called on the Justice Department to release tapes that he said would exonerate him.
In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Gaetz said that Donald McGee, a former Justice Department official who practices law in Florida, was behind the extortion plot against him.
McGee told The Daily Beast that Gaetz’s allegations were “completely, totally false.”
Neither McGee nor Gaetz’s office have responded to requests for additional comment.
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