Rep. Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald Trump is the subject of an investigation by the Justice Department over his alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and whether he paid for her to travel with him.
It is not yet clear how Gaetz met the girl but the alleged encounter took place two years ago when the teenage girl was a minor. The investigation is examining whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws as part of a broder probe into into trafficking allegations involving Gaetz's associate Joel Greenberg - a former county official in Central Florida who was arrested last year on charges that include sex trafficking of a minor. Greenberg has pleaded not guilty and is set to go on trial.
Greenberg Admits He and Gaetz Paid for Sex with 17-Year-Old
The Daily Beast obtained multiple versions of a confession letter penned by Greenberg, in which he has admitted that both he and the embattled GOP congressman "were involved in sexual activities" with multiple women, including a minor who was 17 at the time.
"From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18," Greenberg wrote in the handwritten letter that was apparently written by him to Roger Stone last year in an effort to secure a pardon from then-President Donald Trump.
"I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman," he added.
'He and I Both Had Sex with the Girl who was Underage'
In private text messages to Stone, Greenberg referred to Gaetz by his initials, "MG" or as "Matt."
"My lawyers that I fired, know the whole story about MG's involvement," Greenberg wrote to Stone on Dec. 21. "They know he paid me to pay the girls and that he and I both had sex with the girl who was underage."
In earlier drafts of the letter obtained by The Daily Beast, Greenberg claimed that he and Gaetz had sex with a minor who they thought was 19 at the time but later learned was underage.
"Immediately I called the congressman and warned him to stay clear of this person and informed him she was underage," Greenberg wrote, according to the outlet. "He was equally shocked and disturbed by this revelation."
"There was no further contact with this individual until after her 18th birthday," he noted.
Gaetz Responds to Greenber's Confession Letter
Gaetz has acknowledged the sex trafficking investigation but has continued to maintain that he did not have sex with an underage teen.
A spokesperson for Gaetz issued the following statement to CNN on Thursday evening:
"Congressman Gaetz has never paid for sex, nor has he had sex with a 17 year old as an adult. Politico has reported Mr. Greenberg's threats to make false accusations against others, and while The Daily Beast's story contains a lot of confessions from Mr. Greenberg, it does not add anything of substance, and certainly no evidence for the wild and false claims about Rep. Gaetz. In fact, the story goes some way to showing how Rep. Gaetz was long out of touch with Mr. Greenberg, and had no interest in involving himself in Mr. Greenberg's affairs."