House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Wednesday that if Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is found guilty of sex trafficking, a case currently under review by the Justice Department, GOP leaders will withdraw him from his committee assignments.
McCarthy, on the other hand, indicated that Gaetz would sit on those committees, which include the influential Judiciary Committee, during the DOJ’s inquiry.
“Those are significant consequences. If it turns out to be real, we will remove him from his role “McCarthy spoke with Fox News. “However, Matt Gaetz claims that this isn’t the case and that we don’t have any details. So, let’s gather all of the data.”
“If it turns out to be true, we will suspend him” — Kevin McCarthy says if sex trafficking charges are proven to be true, Gaetz will be removed from committees. Twitter: https://twitter.com/GylpQZ4AoI
March 31, 2021 — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar)
Gaetz, one of former President Trump’s most outspoken backers, is making headlines in Washington this week after it was reported that the Justice Department is investigating claims that he had a sexual relationship with a minor many years ago.
The investigation, which started during Trump’s presidency, is looking into claims that Gaetz broke federal sex trafficking laws by traveling with the girl across state lines.
Gaetz has vigorously denied the accusations, claiming that he and his family were the victims of an extortion scheme in which the suspected perpetrators demanded millions of dollars from the Gaetz family in exchange for the charges to be dropped.
“I know there was a demand for money in return for a guarantee that he and his co-conspirators will make this investigation go away,” Gaetz told Tucker Carlson, a conservative Fox News host, in an interview Tuesday night.
Gaetz went on to accuse Democrats of inflaming the accusations in order to silence a prominent Trump supporter and rising right-wing star.
““What bothers me is the true inspiration behind all of this,” Gaetz said. “Tucker, I think we are in a time of our politics where people are being smeared in order to keep them out of the conversation.”
The uproar surrounding Gaetz comes as Republicans increase their pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders to remove Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from his role on the Intelligence Committee. Swalwell had been targeted by a woman accused of being a Chinese spy since 2012, according to Axios, which first mentioned the incident in December.
After the FBI briefed Swalwell and congressional representatives from both parties in 2015, the California Democrat broke ties with the woman shortly after the agency cleared him of any wrongdoing.
McCarthy said on Wednesday that the DOJ has not briefed him on the Gaetz situation, and that he has not spoken to Gaetz since the Times story broke.
Gaetz is no stranger to causing a stir. He appeared on the House floor in a gas mask at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, attracting howls from Democrats who accused him of insulting the public safety protocols put in place to fight the deadly pandemic.
Gaetz was also a leading supporter of the false claim that Trump had secured a landslide win in November’s presidential election, only for the victory to be “stolen” by widespread voter fraud. On Jan. 6, just hours after a pro-Trump mob invaded the Capitol to obstruct the process, he was among the majority of House Republicans who sought to reverse the election outcome by denying the submitted results from two states.