“Matt Gaetz is said to face Justice Dept. inquiry over sex with an underage girl,” reads The New York Times headline from March 30.
That story from 4 1/2 months ago immediately jumps into the accusation: the GOP lawmaker from Florida is being investigated by the FBI for violating numerous sex-trafficking laws, a crime that typically leads to “severe sentences” for defendants who are found guilty, the Times said.
From the Times story, it appears Gaetz was swept up by a “broader” federal investigation of Joel Greenberg, a friend of the congressman and a now-former county tax collector. Greenberg pleaded guilty in mid-May to six charges, including child sex trafficking, and is scheduled for sentencing August 19.
“It has been nearly four months since anonymous lies were spread everywhere about me,” Rep. Gaetz said last week on his podcast. “Now they’re falling like a house of cards.”
That appears to be true: Four months after that Times headline, Politico reported in a July 23 story the Gaetz case had taken a “bizarre tabloid turn” after a controversial website announced Gaetz had never used it to find young women.
That “unusual move,” Politico summarized, “puts some distance between Gaetz and the accusation against him.”
Farther down in the Politico story, readers were reminded about Greenberg’s plea deal with the FBI and also learned federal prosecutors were “examining” an obstruction of justice charge against Gaetz thanks to a former girlfriend who is cooperating with the Feds. But the FBI's plan to use the ex-girlfriend to corner Gaetz appeared to be falling apart, too, the story acknowledged.
So, after witnessing the media go nuts over the tawdry accusations, the congressman is apparently playing offense – or at least vowing to do so.
“Rolling Stone and Insider.com have yet to retract their stories,” Gaetz told his podcast audience. “We demand again that they do so. Litigation is forthcoming.”