The top Republican in the House of Representatives on Wednesday resisted calls to punish Representative Matt Gaetz who, according to a law enforcement source, faces a federal probe into a relationship with an underage girl.
Gaetz is being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department for possibly violating sex-trafficking laws by paying travel expenses for a 17-year-old girl with whom he was romantically involved, according to a U.S. enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity. Gaetz has denied wrongdoing.
The story was first reported in the New York Times.
Democrat lawmakers immediately pounced on the opportunity to go after Gaetz, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, by demanding his removal from all committee assignments.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Wednesday he would not strip Gaetz of his committee assignments absent proof that he has engaged in wrongdoing, something Democrats only believe in when it applies to one of their own.
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“Those are serious implications. If it comes out to be true, yes, we would remove him, if that was the case. But right now, Matt Gaetz says that it’s not true and we don’t have any information. So let’s get all the information,” McCarthy said on Fox News.
He said he expected to speak to Gaetz later on Wednesday.
Gaetz, an outspoken 38-year-old conservative who has cast himself as an avid leader in Trump’s America First movement, has denied the allegations and said in a statement that he and his family are the victims of an “organized crime extortion.”
Gaetz named the alleged extortionist on Tucker Carlson’s show on Tuesday night as Beggs & Lane attorney David McGee, a former lead attorney for the U.S. Justice Department’s Organized Crime Task Force. McGee has denied these allegations.
Democrats called on McCarthy to strip Gaetz of his committee assignments while the federal probe is under way, especially his seat on the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department. Gaetz also sits on the House Armed Services Committee.
The hypocrisy is so rich. Remember Dem Rep Eric Swalwell who was sleeping with a Chinese spy while on the House Judiciary Committee and is under investigation by the FBI?
The Gaetz story is bizarre for sure. Time will tell his innocence or guilt but in this country a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty!
Reuters contributed to this report.
ARTICLE SOURCE: thefederalistpapers.org