The people toldthe Times that as part of this broader probe, investigators are looking at whether Gaetz, a high profile ally of former President Donald Trump, violated federal sex trafficking laws - something that could carry severe legal repercussions. The sources said the Gaetz investigation was connected to the investigation of Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector in Florida who was indicted previous year on charges including sex trafficking of a child. The investigation was launched by the DOJ under former Attorney General Bill Barr in the final months of the Trump administration, the Timesreported.
The report said investigators are trying to determine if Gaetz possibly violated federal sex trafficking laws. "I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward".
There was one point during the interview where Gaetz brought up a dinner he and Carlson had once that included a friend of his who was "threatened by the Federal Bureau of Investigation". Last year, Florida state Rep. Chris Latvala accused the congressman of designing a "game" with a point system for "sleeping with aides, interns, lobbyists, and married legislators".
The Florida congressman told Axios and The Times that his lawyers were informed that he was the subject, not the target, of "an investigation regarding sexual conduct with women".
Axios said Gaetz sounded "shaken" during a 13-minute-long phone call during which he discussed the allegations. "I don't think that clarified much, but it certainly showed this is a deeply interesting story and we'll be following it".
McGee told The Daily BeastGaetz's assertions were "completely, totally false".
The news follows reports, including this one by Axios, that Gaetz was considering leaving Congress to take a broadcasting job with Newsmax, the conservative outlet.
"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", wrote Gaetz.
"No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation", he said. "And the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice were so concerned about this attempted extortion of a member of Congress that they asked my dad to wear a wire, which he did, with the former Department of Justice official", Gaetz continued.
Greenberg pleaded not guilty a year ago and was sent to jail this month for violating the terms of his bail.