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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters on Thursday he has spoken with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) about the "accusations" against him involving sex trafficking of a minor, and Gaetz has professed his innocence.
The Department of Justice is investigating whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel out of state with him. McCarthy said that during their private meeting, he "explained to Mr. Gaetz the rules inside our conference. If there was something to come forward, we would take action." Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the No. 2 House Republican leader, made a similar statement Wednesday, saying if "something really formal" happens with the Justice Department investigation, GOP leadership will "of course react and take action."
Gaetz sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which has oversight of the Justice Department. A reporter asked if Gaetz would keep his seat amid the investigation, and McCarthy responded that the congressman is "the same as any American. He's innocent until proven guilty. There's no charges against him yet. If a charge comes forward, that will be dealt with at that time."
McCarthy was also questioned about a CNN report that said in 2017, staffers from the office of former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) spoke to Gaetz about his conduct and how he needed to act professionally while in the Capitol. McCarthy was House majority leader at the time, and said he wasn't part of this discussion or aware it took place. "If you're wondering if I knew anything about what's being alleged now, no," he added.