Republican Gaetz denies ‘false’ sex allegations, won’t resign

Washington: Florida Republican Matt Gaetz says he will not leave Congress and denies that he “slept with” an underage girl, suggesting that accusations against him by political foes stem from anger that he “loathes the swamp”.

In a column appearing in the Washington Examiner, a conservative news outlet, the embattled politician predicted that “some of my feckless colleagues in Congress” would call for him to step down.

“No, I am absolutely not resigning,” he wrote on Monday (Tuesday AEDT) in one of his first public comments about the allegations.

Florida Republican Matt Gaetz denies he had sex with a 17-year-old.Credit:AP

Gaetz, starting his fifth year in Congress, has been battling to preserve his political career since reports last week that he was under federal investigation for possible sex crimes. An aggressive and high-profile ally of Donald Trump, Gaetz has so far received almost no public support from his congressional Republican colleagues and none from the former president.

The 38-year-old is under scrutiny by federal prosecutors over whether he had sex with a 17-year-old and other underage girls and violated federal sex trafficking laws. That’s according to people familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they could not discuss details publicly.

Gaetz, who has not been charged with any crimes, denied the accusations.

“First, I have never, ever paid for sex,” he wrote. “And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old.”

Engaged since New Year’s Eve, he wrote, “My lifestyle of yesteryear may be different from how I live now, but it was not and is not illegal.”

Gaetz used his column to attack Democrats, news organisations and others, saying his enemies were “just repeating false allegations about a congressman who loathes the swamp and fights both sides of it on a daily basis”.

He also predicted, “I’m sure some partisan crooks in Merrick Garland’s Justice Department want to pervert the truth and the law to go after me.”

The FBI, the Biden administration’s Justice Department and “the Cheney political dynasty” were among the entities Gaetz accused of unjustly targeting him.

The Justice Department investigation began last year while Trump was still president. Gaetz helped lead an unsuccessful battle in January to depose Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, from her job as No. 3 House GOP leader. Days earlier, she was among just 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump.

Gaetz’s article was published the same day a former congressional aide told reporters he had been interviewed by the FBI last week. Nathan Nelson, a military adviser who left Gaetz’s office in October, said he was questioned about whether he’d left that job because he knew of Gaetz’s “involvement in illegal activities”.

“I’m here this morning to state that nothing could be further from the truth. Neither I nor any other member of Congressman Gaetz’s staff had any knowledge of illegal activities,” Nelson said at his home in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

Nelson provided no specific details about the FBI’s questioning. Without detailing them, he said he believed the charges against Gaetz were false.


Most Viewed in World

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article