House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Wednesday that House Republicans would support removing Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) from his committee assignments if allegations related to a Department of Justice investigation are true.
Gaetz said his family has been cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and said his father was wearing a recording device, at the FBI's direction, "to catch these criminals".
In a statement Tuesday night on Twitter, Gaetz vehemently denied the allegations reported by the Times. The investigation was launched by the DOJ under former Attorney General Bill Barr in the final months of the Trump administration, the Times reported.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is trying to tell us that he's not going down alone.More news: Mexico updates COVID-19 death toll to over 321,000
Gaetz said he has provided financially for former sexual partners but said he was "absolutely" confident none of them were underage. He demanded the Justice Department release the recordings.
The interview then took a sudden turn, with Gaetz - who was in the midst of arguing that this "era of politics" was dominated by smear campaigns to try to take people "out of the conversation" - brought up an accusation that had been made against Carlson years ago.
Gaetz, who represents parts of western Florida, is accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paying her to travel with him, and he is under investigation to determine if he violated federal sex trafficking laws, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press.
Gaetz said one of his relatives was supposed "transfer" money tomorrow to "implicate. former DOJ officials" in what he alleged was an attempt to extort his family.
Carlson, who appeared stunned following the segment, told his audience it was "one of the weirdest interviews" he has ever done and that it "certainly showed this as a deeply interesting story".More news: Brisbane goes into a snap three-day lockdown
"No part of the allegations against me are true and the people pushing these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation", he wrote.
Perino also asked McCarthy whether he knew why Gaetz voted against 2017 legislation related to human trafficking, to which McCarthy replied, "No, I have no idea whatsoever why he would vote against that".
"I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorise my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward", Mr Gaetz told the New York Times.
Three sources told the Times that the investigation into Gaetz is part of a broader probe into Gaetz' ally, former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, who is facing a slew of charges, including sex trafficking of a child. "And I'm just troubled the lack of any sort of legitimate investigation into me would then permute, would then convert into this extortion attempt".More news: England eases Covid-19 contact curbs