In the last few months of the Trump administration, an investigation into the Florida congressman has been launched

Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and close ally of former President Donald J. Trump is under investigation by the Justice Department to see if he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid to travel with him, according to three people who were briefed on the matter

Investigators are checking whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, people said A variety of federal laws make it illegal to induce someone under the age of 18 to travel across state lines for sex for money or something of value.The Justice Department is prosecuting such cases regular and offenders are often sentenced to heavy sentences

It wasn’t clear how Mr. Gaetz met the girl who was believed to be 17 years old at the time of the encounters about two years ago, who investigators are investigating according to two people

The investigation opened in the last few months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William P Barr, the two people said Given Mr. Gaetz’s national profile, senior officials from the Washington Department of Justice – including some of Mr Trump’s – have been briefed on the investigation, people said

The three people said the trial of Mr. The 38-year-old Gaetz is part of a wider investigation by a political ally of his, a local Florida official named Joel Greenberg, who was charged with a number of charges last summer, including sex trafficking in a child and financial support from people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl

Mr Greenberg, who has since resigned as a tax collector in Seminole County north of Orlando, visited the White House with Mr. Gaetz in 2019 according to a photo that Mr Greenberg posted on Twitter

No charges have been brought against Mr. Gaetz and the extent of his criminal exposure is unclear

Mr Gaetz said in an interview that his lawyers had contacted the Ministry of Justice and that they had been told that he was the subject and not the target of an investigation. “I only know that it has to do with women,” said Mr. Said Gaetz “I suspect that someone is trying to classify my generosity towards ex-girlfriends as something more unpleasant”

Mr Gaetz named the investigation part of an elaborate program that included “false sex allegations” to blackmail him and his family for $ 25 million. He said he and his father, Don Gaetz, worked with the FBme after being approached by people who said they could “let the investigation go away”

Representatives of the Ministry of Justice and the FB.I declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for the US. Law firm in central Florida

Mr Greenberg pleaded not guilty last year and was jailed this month for violating bail terms and is due to be tried in Orlando in June

A frequent presence on Fox News and other conservative media outlets, Mr. Gaetz recently thought with confidants about ending the chosen policy and taking a full-time job at the conservative television broadcaster Newsmax or another network, according to a person familiar with the talks Axios reported for the first time on Tuesday that Mr. Gaetz was considering attending the congress leave

Mr Greenberg had links with controversial figures who supported Mr Trump, a review of court records, social media posts, and right-wing websites, found a website operated by a member of the far-right group Proud Boys, and a network of fake social media -Accounts with Mr Trump’s longtime political advisor Roger J. Stone Jr have false allegations about Mr. Greenberg’s rivals are similar to rumors that prosecutors are trying to secretly spread the accused Mr. Greenberg

It wasn’t clear how Mr. Greenberg either knew Mr. Gaetz or Mr Stein posted a selfie with both of them in 2017 and tweeted, “Great catch-up process. The following year, Mr. Gaetz expressed his support for Mr. Aus Greenberg’s successful offer for a local office that predicts he would one day become a great member of Congress.” >

On Capitol Hill, Mr. Gaetz has taken on the role of the bad guy on the left as well as he as one of Mr Trump’s strongest defender and enabler, often with a theatrical flair, wore a gas mask on the floor of the house in the early days of the pandemic last year and insisted he was worried about public safety on charges that he was concerned about it Severity of the spread of the coronavirus made fun of

Mr Gaetz was first elected to Congress in 2016. As a member of Florida state legislature and a member of a Republican political family, Gaetz initially supported former Florida administration’s Jeb Bush in the Republican presidential primary that year before selling his political fortune to Mr. Trump

It paid off.He won a seat in Congress representing part of the Florida Panhandle, and as one of Mr. Trump’s most flamboyant followers on Capitol Hill and on cable television, his profile skyrocketed

Mr Gaetz invited a right-wing Holocaust skeptic to a State of the Union speech in 2018 and attended an event last year at which he said the Proud Boys had ensured security, even though he distanced himself from the group in his podcast, Als die Democrats moved in 2019 to meet Mr. Trump for the first time, Mr. Gaetz and a phalanx of Republicans who followed him stormed past the Capitol Police into the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee to briefly break the investigation into the President

According to Mr. Trump’s defeat last year, Mr. Gaetz again stood by his side, defending the president’s unsubstantiated allegations of widespread electoral fraud. Mr. Gaetz helped organize legislative efforts to challenge President-elect Joseph R. Biden JrVictory during certification by Congress on Jan 6, which was interrupted for hours by a pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol, Mr Gaetz later traveled to Wyoming to hold a rally against Rep Liz Cheney, a Republican leader who voted to indict Mr Trump for inciting to the uprising

In 2017, Mr. Gaetz was the only member of Congress who voted against a law that gave the federal government more power and money to fight human trafficking

“Northwest Florida voters didn’t send me to Washington to create more federal government,” said Mr. At the time, Gaetz said in a local television interview “If at all, we should abolish many agencies at the federal level”

Mr Gaetz’s personal life has attracted attention before. Last summer, he announced that he had a 19-year-old son, Nestor Galban, despite Mr. Gaetz said he was not Mr. Galban’s biological father, nor had he adopted him. Mr. Galban was 12 years old when they met and moved to the United States from Cuba; Mr. Gaetz was with Mr. Galban’s sister

“He’s part of my family history,” said Mr Gaetz told People magazine in June “My work with Nestor, our family, no element of my public service can be compared to the joy our family has brought us”

Mr Gaetz is now engaged to an analyst named Ginger Luckey (26), whom he works for Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club on Dec. 30

It was unclear how investigators in the Greenberg case dealt with the investigation of Mr. Gaetz’s behavior In June last year, federal prosecutors brought charges against Mr Greenberg, accusing him of prosecuting a political rival

It was around this time that federal authorities seized Mr. Greenberg’s phone and laptop, according to court records Greenberg, whose job included issuing licenses, created fake IDs for himself and a young girl, and experimented with holograms, which court documents said were used for concealed firearms permits

Two months later, he was charged with sex trafficking from May to November 2017, prosecutors said Mr Greenberg targeted the girl, who was between 14 and 17 years old, saying he had “recruited” her for sexual acts and ” inquired ”, as consideration for unspecified benefits or favors

Mr Greenberg worked in advertising before successfully running for tax collector in Seminole County in 2016 at the age of 31

Within days of taking office, he fired three employees who had supported his predecessor and who spent more than $ 1 million in tax dollars on personal expenses, including guns, ammunition, body armor, and a drone, as well as computers for his own cryptocurrency company , revealed a later audit of the district

The following year, according to The Orlando Sentinel, Mr. Greenberg posted a photo of himself on social media with Milo Yiannopoulos, a right-wing figure who has made racist remarks in the past.The newspaper also described Mr Greenberg’s own misogynistic and anti-Muslim comments on Facebook
In his bid for re-election, Mr Greenberg turned to a clandestine tactic to undermine a potential rival in late 2019, prosecutors said he sent an anonymous letter to the school describing a potential candidate making unfounded allegations charged with sexual misconduct with a student and made similar claims on a fake Facebook account

As the main race intensified last summer, similar messages surfaced on fake social media accounts tagged with Mr. Stone

“Watch out for the Seminole district,” someone named April Goad said on Facebook, warning the Floridians, “don’t open the door to your rival,” according to Graphika, a social media analytics company

The post linked to an article about the rival published on the Central Florida Post, a website owned by Mr. Stones employee who wrote positive articles about Mr. Greenberg’s website was started by a member of the Proud Boys who worked with security vendors for Mr. Stone on Jan 6 in Washington ahead of the Capitol uprising

Mr Greenberg’s re-election efforts quickly waned when he was first indicted last June, and he resigned a day later

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World news – USA – Matt Gaetz to be investigated for possible sexual relations with a girl, 17

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/30/us/politics/matt-gaetz-sex-trafficking-investigation.html