Rep. Matt Gaetz named the former Justice Department official he claims is trying to extort $25 million from his family.
David McGee, an attorney with Beggs & Lane, is the man the Florida Republican named during an appearance Tuesday evening on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show in which he responded to reports that he is under federal investigation over a former relationship.
McGee served for six years as the first assistant at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and for seven years as the lead attorney for the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Task Force, according to his biography on the website of his law firm, which is based in Pensacola, Florida.
Neither McGee nor Beggs & Lane immediately returned the Washington Examiner’s requests for comment.
McGee did, however, talk to the Daily Beast, which reported that he called any claims he or his law firm were involved in extortion “completely, totally false.”
“This is a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that Matt Gaetz is apparently about to be indicted for sex trafficking underage girls,” McGee told the outlet.
The New York Times first reported Gaetz, 38, is being looked at as part of a broader investigation into local Florida official Joel Greenberg, a political ally who was indicted last summer on an array of charges, including sex trafficking of a minor and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl.
Greenberg, who was Seminole County tax collector, pleaded not guilty to all charges and was jailed this month for violating the terms of his bail. He is set for a court date in Orlando in June.
Investigators are said to be examining whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship two years ago with a girl believed to have been 17 at the time and paid her to travel with him. Specifically, authorities are trying to determine whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws.
Katie Benner, one of the New York Times reporters who first reported the investigation, told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that McGee is “not involved” in the investigation, which began under former Attorney General William Barr in the final months of the Trump administration.
Gaetz told Carlson the FBI, alongside the Justice Department, had his father wear a wire to eavesdrop on conversations between him and McGee, who the lawmaker alleged was trying to receive $25 million in exchange for making the allegations disappear. The Florida Republican said his father was set to catch McGee on Wednesday in the act demanding “$4.5 million” as a “down payment” on the “bribe,” adding that the New York Times report hampered the investigation.
“This former Department of Justice official tomorrow was supposed to be contacted by my father, so that specific instructions can be given regarding the wiring of $4.5 million as a down payment on this bribe,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that tonight, somehow, the New York Times is leaking this information, smearing me, and ruining the investigation that would likely result in one of the former colleagues of the current DOJ being brought to justice for trying to extort me and my family.”
Other news outlets also reported that Gaetz is under investigation on Tuesday.
An immediate reaction to the reports came from Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, who said Gaetz should be removed from the House Judiciary Committee while he is under federal investigation.
Benner said on MSNBC that Gaetz publicly talking about the alleged extortion plot is “basically destroying and blowing up an FBI investigation.”
“He should not be sitting on a Congressional Committee with oversight over the DOJ while the Department is investigating him,” Lieu said, adding in another tweet that the Justice Department and FBI “would not have wanted Rep Matt Gaetz to disclose that his father was wearing a wire (if Rep Gaetz is even telling the truth).”
During his interview with Carlson, Gaetz claimed McGee wasn’t working alone, and the group said it had “connections” within the Biden White House, so he could receive a pardon in the supposed criminal investigation.
“I know that there was a demand for money in exchange for a commitment that he could make this investigation go away along with his co-conspirators,” he said. “They even claim to have specific connections inside the Biden White House. Now, I don’t know if that’s true, they were promising that Joe Biden would pardon me, obviously, I don’t need a pardon, I’m not seeking a pardon, I’ve not done anything improper or wrong.”
The Washington Examiner reached out to the White House for comment.
The Florida Republican told Carlson that the 17-year-old in question “doesn’t exist” and “I have not had a relationship with a 17-year-old; that is totally false.”
“Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime,” he added. Gaetz repeatedly demanded the FBI and DOJ “release the audio recordings” that will “prove his innocence.”
“Tonight, I am demanding that the Department of Justice and the FBI release the audio recordings that were made under their supervision and at their direction, which will prove my innocence and that will show that these allegations aren’t true, they’re merely intended to try to bleed my family out of money,” he said.
Gaetz echoed many of these remarks in a series of tweets prior to his appearance on Carlson’s show.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the matter. The Washington Examiner also reached out to the FBI for comment.
At one point during the Fox News interview, to cite an example of federal authorities apparently trying to “smear” him, the congressman suggested Carlson was witness to an incident in which the FBI “threatened” a “friend” who attended dinner with them and Carlson’s wife roughly two years ago.
“I don’t remember the woman you are speaking of or the context at all, honestly,” Carlson said in response.
Earlier in the day, Axios reported Gaetz was considering leaving Congress to join Newsmax, a conservative cable network.
A representative for Florida’s 1st Congressional District since 2017, Gaetz, a staunch Trump ally, has been a regular guest on right-leaning news shows. He got engaged to Ginger Luckey, sister to Oculus founder and Republican donor Palmer Luckey, in December.