Is the Deep State trying to destroy Rep. Matt Gaetz?

On Tuesday afternoon, the New York Times published a thin piece that made the stunning assertion that, during the Trump administration, the Justice Department opened an inquiry into a claim that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) had a sexual relationship with an underage girl.  Gaetz responded by denying the allegation and then making his own, even more shocking assertion: Gaetz says that a former Justice Department official tried to extort money from his family, that the local FBI was investigating the claim, and that this Times report is an attempt by the Deep State to protect that official.

Wow!  So let me break all of this out.

Preliminarily, this is not the first time that there have been assertions about irregularities in Gaetz's sex life.  In June 2020, Gaetz revealed that he had adopted 19-year-old Nestor Galban, a Cuban youth, who has been part of the Gaetz household for six years.  Instantly, crude, unfounded rumors started flying that this was, in fact, an illicit homosexual relationship.

Nothing came of those rumors.  That was then; this is now.  Now, the Times published a piece headlined:

Matt Gaetz Is Said to Face Justice Dept. Inquiry Over Sex With an Underage Girl: An inquiry into the Florida congressman was opened in the final months of the Trump administration, people briefed on it said.

The article opens by carefully identifying Gaetz as "a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump" and then says he is being investigated for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-girl (Florida's age of consent is 18) and paying for her to travel with him.  If the allegations are true, that's not only statutory rape, but also sex-trafficking because Gaetz paid for her to cross state lines.

The reason Gaetz was being investigated, says the article, is because a "political ally" of his, Joel Greenberg, was indicted for sexual wrongdoing, including sex-trafficking and statutory rape.  However, the Times concedes that Gaetz hasn't been charged, "and the extent of his criminal exposure is unclear."

After acknowledging that Gaetz completely denies the accusations, the rest of the article simply smears Gaetz by describing his conservative bona fides (sure to outrage Times readers); his political relationships with unpleasant people; and, most importantly, Greenberg's alleged wrongdoing.  In other words, the article is two thirds what I would call "we hate his politics" and one third what I would describe as "he's probably guilty by association."  It's a sleazy article, and I'd say the same even if evidence emerged that Gaetz is guilty as charged.

The Times updated the article to include Gaetz's rebuttal to the charges, and that rebuttal is a doozy: in addition to saying the allegations are completely unfounded, Gaetz claims that a former Justice Department employee was trying to extort money from him and his family, that he and his dad were working with the local FBI, and that the malfeasor's friends in the Justice Department leaked the attack on Gaetz to protect their friend:

Mr. Gaetz called the investigation part of an elaborate scheme involving "false sex allegations" to extort him and his family for $25 million that began this month. He said he and his father, Don Gaetz, had been cooperating with the F.B.I. and "wearing a wire" after they were approached by people saying they could make the investigation "go away." Mr. Gaetz claimed the disclosure of the sex trafficking inquiry was intended to thwart an investigation into the extortion plot.

In a second interview later Tuesday, the congressman said he had no plans to resign his House seat and denied that he had romantic relationships with minors. "It is verifiably false that I have traveled with a 17-year-old woman," he said.

Gaetz appeared on Tucker Carlson, where he repeated and expanded upon his denial, the claim about the extortion attempt against him, and his theory that the DOJ is trying to protect its former colleague.  Gaetz went so far as to name the alleged extortionist as David McGee, an attorney at Beggs & Lane in Florida.  Gaetz demanded that the FBI release the audio of his dad's recorded conversations with McGee, which would prove Gaetz's innocence:

If Gaetz is lying, this is just another story about a sleazy politician.  However, if he's telling the truth, we are witnessing once again the fact that the Deep State has no limit to what it will do to protect its people and its power.  If that's the case, something must be done to bring the Deep State to heel.  The people who work for it will have been shown to be absolutely corrupted by their absolute power.

Image: Matt Gaetz on Tucker Carlson.  YouTube screen grab.