Matt Gaetz has had a rough week.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the Florida congressman, who made a name for himself as one of former President Trump’s most visible advocates in Congress, is under federal investigation for a possible sexual relationship with a 17-year-old. The report was scant on details, and Gaetz’s attempts to explain himself, which included a convoluted story about an extortion attempt, only made things more confusing. On Thursday night, the Times filled in some of the blanks.
According to the Times, the investigation in question is centered around the recruitment of women for sex, and the FBI has questioned multiple women in an attempt to stitch together the nature of Gaetz’s involvement. The Times reviewed Cash App and Apple Pay receipts that showed payments from both Gaetz and Joel Greenberg, a former Florida official and initial focus of the investigation, to one of the women. People familiar with the investigation said that in 2019 and 2020 Gaetz and Greenberg would meet women recruited online at various locations, pay them in cash drawn from ATMs, and have sex with them. Some of them took ecstasy, including Gaetz, according to two people familiar with the meet-ups.
There’s also the 17-year-old Gaetz may have had sex with and “trafficked” by paying for her to cross state lines. The Times reports that a sex-trafficking charge filed against Greenberg in August involves the same girl. (Greenberg has filled up a bingo card full of sleazy criminal charges: sex trafficking, scamming pandemic aid, bribing an official, stalking a political adversary, stealing money from taxpayers, identity theft, and dozens of others. In 2017, Gaetz advocated for Greenberg to run for U.S. Congress.)
Gaetz countered the Times‘ story Thursday night with the idea he’s a wholesome, loving guy and that none of this is true. “Matt Gaetz has never paid for sex,” his office said in a statement provided to Rolling Stone. “Matt Gaetz refutes all the disgusting allegations completely. Matt Gaetz has never ever been on any such websites whatsoever. Matt Gaetz cherishes the relationships in his past and looks forward to marrying the love of his life.”
Somehow, this wasn’t the only story about Gaetz’s alleged sexcapades that dropped on Thursday. A few hours earlier, CNN reported that Gaetz showed nude photos and videos of women he’d slept with to his colleagues in the House of Representatives, including while on the House floor. One of the videos featured a naked woman with a hula-hoop, according to a source.
A few hours before that report, the Daily Beast published a story in which Gaetz’s colleagues detailed “his love of alcohol and illegal drugs, as well as his proclivity for younger women.” It was well known, for instance, that in 2018 Gaetz dated a college student (of legal age) who came to Washington as an intern. The Daily Beast went on to describe Gaetz’s perception on Capitol Hill as “cartoonishly scandalous,” citing a photo of a trash can outside his office topped off with an empty “Costco-sized” box of condoms.
The Daily Beast’s story painted Gaetz as a caustic, radioactive figure in Congress, and Gaetz seemed to acknowledge that he does not have many allies in the House. “I know I have many enemies and few friends,” he told The Daily Beast. “My support generally lies outside of Washington, D.C., and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Shortly before the Times initial story broke on Tuesday, Axios reported that Gaetz was considering leaving Congress to take a job working for Newsmax, the pro-Trump cable news channel.