The former Justice Department employee accused of trying to extort $25 million from Rep. Matt Gaetz slammed the accusations as “completely false” Wednesday even as the Florida Republican’s father backed up some of his son’s claims.
David McGee, a former federal prosecutor in Florida who is now in private practice, told The Washington Post that Mr. Gaetz’s extortion claims are a “blatant attempt to distract” from a federal sex-crimes investigation.
“I have no connection with that case at all, other than, one of a thousand people who have heard the rumors,” Mr. McGee said in an interview.
The Justice Department is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct and interstate trafficking of a 17-year-old girl roughly two years ago.
Mr. Gaetz has vehemently denied he had a relationship with any such girl, insisting he’s been targeted in an extortion scheme by Mr. McGee who, he says, promised to make the accusations disappear in exchange for $25 million, the first tranche of which was supposed to be set up Wednesday.
The investigation, on which The New York Times first reported Tuesday night, started months ago under Attorney General William P. Barr during the Trump administration.
Don Gaetz, the congressman’s father, backed up his son’s claims in an interview with Politico. The elder Mr. Gaetz said he is cooperating with the FBI in an extortion investigation and that he wore a wire in a meeting with Mr. McGee and another man.
“The FBI asked me to try and get that information for Matt and an indication that we would transfer money to Mr. David McGee,” Don Gaetz said in the interview.
The Post reported Wednesday night that two men had approached Don Gaetz and offered to help his son. The men said if Don Gaetz gave them a large sum of money to locate Robert Levinson — the longest-held American hostage in Iran, though he is believed to be dead — they could make the allegations against his son disappear, according to the article.
Don Gaetz was suspicious of the communication and contacted the FBI.
The two men had no apparent connection to the investigation into the Florida congressman other than learning about it before it was publicly reported, according to the Post.
Mr. McGee said he welcomes the release of any tapes. “If there is a tape, play the tape,” he said.
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