Tucker Carlson says Matt Gaetz interview was ‘one of the weirdest’ he has done

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Tucker Carlson interviewing Matt Gaetz on Fox News (Fox News)
Tucker Carlson interviewing Matt Gaetz on Fox News (Fox News)

US Rep Matt Gaetz used an awkward interview with Tucker Carlson to claim that allegations he trafficked a 17-year-old girl are “a lie” and “verifiably false” — and even implied the Fox News host had met a woman involved in the investigation for dinner.

It came after The New York Times reported that the Justice Department is investigating whether Mr Gaetz paid for a girl to travel with him.

He has instead claimed that his family is being targeted by a former Justice Department official in an extortion scheme.

Mr Carlson said Tuesday night’s appearance was “one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted”.

The network requested an appearance from Mr Gaetz following The New York Times story, Carlson said, “on the certainty that there is always more than what you read in the newspaper”.

“I don’t think that clarified much,” he added.

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At one point during the interview, Mr Gaetz addressed sexual misconduct allegations that once faced Mr Carlson.

“I’m not the only person on screen right now who has been falsely accused of a terrible sex act,” Mr Gaetz said. “You were accused of something that you did not do, so you know what this feels like, the pain it can bring to your family.”

Mr Gaetz also said a woman he had introduced to Mr Carlson was harassed by the FBI.

“You and I went to dinner, about two years ago,” he said. “I brought a friend of mine – you’ll remember her. She was actually threatened by the FBI, told that if she wouldn’t cop to the fact that somehow I was involved in some pay-for-play scheme, she should be in trouble.”

Mr Carlson appeared taken aback and replied: “I don’t remember the woman you are speaking of or the context at all, honestly.”

Mr Gaetz added that he believes people at the Justice Department are trying to “smear” him.

“Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime,” he said.

The Justice Department investigation is reportedly part of a larger probe into Joel Greenberg, a Florida official and political ally of Mr Gaetz who was indicted last summer on child sex trafficking charges.

Mr Greenberg faces 14 charges, including allegations of stalking a political opponent, using a state database to create fake IDs, and sex trafficking a minor. He faces a trial in June.

The probe reportedly began in the final months of Donald Trump’s administration under then-US Attorney General William Barr.

The Justice Department has declined to comment.

While Mr Gaetz has denied wrongdoing, he also has insisted that a former Justice Department attorney has sought to “bleed” money from his family by promising to make the case disappear.

Mr Gaetz told Fox News that his father received a text message on 16 March demanding a meeting with “$25 million in exchange for making horrible sex trafficking allegations against me go away”.

He claimed that his family alerted the FBI and Justice Department, who were “so concerned they asked my dad to wear a wire”.

The recordings “will prove my innocence”, he said.

During the interview, Mr Gaetz named the former Justice Department official he alleges has sought to extort his family.

“They were promising that Joe Biden would pardon me – obviously I don’t need a pardon, I’m not seeking a pardon,” he said.

At another point, Mr Gaetz said that “someone” alleged there are photographs of him with “child prostitutes”.

“That’s obviously false – there will be no such pictures because no such thing happened,” Mr Gaetz said.

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