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Gaetz to remain on Judiciary Committee while probe into underage sex claims continues

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., attends an event on Capitol Hill in Washington in November, 2017. According to reports on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, Gaetz will remain on the House Judiciary Committee as allegations of underage sex trafficking have been directed towards him.

CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES

By DAVE GOLDINER | New York Daily News | Published: March 31, 2021

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pushed back Wednesday on calls to immediately suspend Rep. Matt Gaetz from the Judiciary Committee over underage sex trafficking accusations.

McCarthy noted that Gaetz, R-Fla., denied knowingly violating any laws and said in a Fox News interview that he would take action against his conservative ally only if the allegations are true.

“Those are serious implications. If it turns out to be true, yes, we would remove him if that was the case. But, right now as Matt Gaetz has said, that it is not true and we don’t have any information,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said.

Democratic lawmakers have called for the Trump-backing congressman to be stripped of his powerful committee seat until the probe is resolved. The GOP leader’s remarks suggest that is unlikely to happen quickly.

Gaetz is under federal investigation over allegations that he maintained a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid her to cross state lines for sex.

Former Attorney General William Barr was personally briefed on the probe last summer and made no effort to block it, Politico reported, citing sources who noted it would be standard procedure for top officials to sign off on an investigation into a prominent lawmaker like Gaetz.

The 38-year-old congressman claims that the probe is all part of a convoluted $25 million extortion scheme orchestrated by a former Justice Department official.

On Tuesday night, Gaetz tried to rope Tucker Carlson into the case by telling the Fox News host that he had actually met the underage teen during a double date two years ago.

“You and I went to dinner. ... Your wife was there,” Gaetz told Carlson. “I brought a friend of mine. You’ll remember her.”

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The usually loquacious TV anchor was left momentarily speechless before saying he didn’t “remember the woman you’re speaking of, or the context, at all.”

Gaetz also compared himself to Carlson by saying he was “not the only person on screen right now who’s been falsely accused of a terrible sex act.” Carlson noted that Gaetz was referring to a “mentally ill viewer,” whom he never met, who accused him of a sex crime 20 years ago.

“That was one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted,” a stunned Carlson told viewers after Gaetz’s interview. “I don’t think that clarified much. ... Don’t quite understand it. But we’ll bring you more when we find out.”

The GOP congressman did not specifically deny the relationship in the Fox News interview, but he did deny that he had sex with anyone who was 17.

Gaetz also oddly denied being depicted in explicit photos with underage sex partners, even though no such claim has been made publicly.

The Florida representative complained to Carlson that his political enemies were misrepresenting his behavior toward his sexual partners.

Gaetz has been one of former President Donald Trump’s most loyal and attention-grabbing defenders in recent years. He enthusiastically parroted Trump’s claims that the presidential election was rigged and backed efforts to overturn the results.

He stormed a congressional hearing during Trump’s first impeachment probe and infamously wore a gas mask to the Capitol to mock restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 during the early days of the pandemic.

In recent days, Gaetz had reportedly mused about leaving Congress to take a job at Newsmax, the far-right-wing news outlet.

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