Matt Gaetz Somehow Feels ‘Vindicated’ Despite Being Under Investigation

·2 min read
Fox News
Fox News

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he paid for sex, engaged in sex trafficking, and had a sexual relationship with an underage girl, said Wednesday on Fox News that he feels “vindicated” because he has not yet been charged with any crime.

The investigation into the Florida Republican began in the final months of the Trump administration, The New York Times reported, and remains active. It originated from an investigation into Joel Greenberg, a friend of Gaetz’s who pleaded guilty last year to six charges of sex trafficking, among other crimes. Greenberg is cooperating with authorities, as is the embattled congressman’s ex-girlfriend.

“This was an operation to destroy me, to harm my family, to hinder my ability to serve my district and the movement I represent in Congress,” Gaetz told Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night. “The most important thing that has happened since our last on-air discussion [is that] someone has been indicted and has pleaded guilty to trying to shake down my family based on this pile of lies.”

Gaetz is referring to Florida businessman Stephen Alford pleading guilty to wire fraud in connection with an effort to extort $25 million from Gaetz’s father in exchange for a presidential pardon for Gaetz that the congressman sought.

Gaetz hadn’t appeared on Carlson’s show in a year. Fox News, The Daily Beast reported, put him on an informal blacklist and kept sympathetic coverage of him to a minimum since news of the sex trafficking investigation broke. Part of the reason was that Gaetz, in his last televised conversation with Carlson, seemingly tried to get the Fox host to exonerate him. Carlson was “livid” at the apparent effort, CNN reported then.

Carlson asked Gaetz if he expected to be charged.

“No, that would be a travesty. I’m innocent. I have maintained my innocence. I have been entirely consistent on this fact,” he replied. “Each and every day, the lies about me unravel and are debunked… I feel vindicated each and every day that the facts are revealed.”

The Daily Beast reported in January that another friend of Greenberg’s, Joseph Ellicott, witnessed Greenberg tell Gaetz over the phone that he had had sex with a 17-year-old. The Daily Beast also reported last April that Gaetz paid $900 to Greenberg, who then made Venmo payments to three young women totaling that amount.

In 2017, Gaetz was the only member of Congress to vote against a bill enhancing the federal government’s power to investigate human trafficking.

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