Fox News gasbag Tucker Carlson was visibly puzzled following an interview with Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz about a Department of Justice inquiry into whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travel.
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that investigators are examining whether Gaetz, a Trump ally and certified shit-stirrer, “violated federal sex trafficking laws” when he traveled across state lines with the 17-year-old two years ago. In an interview, Gaetz insisted that “it is verifiably false that I have traveled with a 17-year-old woman.” Calling a 17-year-old a “woman” is bad enough, but apparently Gaetz was eager to make himself look even worse.
Gaetz appeared on Carlson’s show later that night in an attempt to set the record straight, but only succeeded in making his predicament even more convoluted.
The Congressman continued to deny the allegations and said that this 17-year-old girl “doesn’t exist.” He also claimed that the allegations are part of an extortion scheme by a former Department of Justice employee to “bleed [his] family out of money.”
“On March 16th, my father got a text message demanding a meeting, wherein a person demanded $25 million in exchange for making horrible sex trafficking allegations against me go away,” Gaetz said. “Our family was so troubled by that we went to the local FBI, and the FBI and the Department of Justice were so concerned about this attempted extortion of a member of Congress that they asked my dad to wear a wire, which he did with the former Department of Justice official.”
He continued, “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.”
Gaetz went on to name the alleged rogue former DOJ employee live on the air, accusing former Florida federal prosecutor David McGee of the scheme. McGee told the Washington Post that Gaetz’s accusation was “totally false,” calling it “a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that he’s under investigation for sex trafficking of minors.”
And as Business Insider noted, Gaetz’s timeline is puzzling. Gaetz told Carlson that he didn’t know how long the investigation had been going on and didn’t offer an answer when Carlson asked when he was made aware of the investigation. But New York Times reporter Katie Benner told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday that the DOJ probe into Gaetz sexual relations was launched late last summer, several months before the alleged extortion attempt. While that doesn’t necessarily eliminate the possibility that McGee could have harassed Gaetz’s family for money, it does indicate that the alleged extortion plot did not trigger the DOJ’s investigation. So it’s difficult to see how the release of any audio recordings between his father and McGee would exonerate Gaetz.
Gaetz refused to go down alone, however. He repeatedly attempted to implicate Carlson in this controversy, a move that left Carlson visibly puzzled.
“I’m not the only person on screen right now who has been falsely accused of a terrible sex act,” Gaetz said. “You were accused of something that you did not do. And so, you know what this feels like, the pain that can bring to your family and you know how it just puts people on defense when you’re accused of something, so salacious and awful.”
“You just referred to a mentally ill viewer who accused me of a sex crime 20 years ago,” Carlson said. “And of course, it was not true, I’d never met the person. But I do agree with you that being accused falsely is one of the worst things that can happen.”
Moments later, Gaetz attempted to drag Carlson into his mess again.
“You and I went to dinner about two years ago, your wife was there and I brought a friend of mine,” Gaetz said. “You’ll remember her. And she was actually threatened by the FBI, told that if she wouldn’t cop to the fact that somehow I was involved in some pay for play scheme, that she could face trouble.”
He said that he believes there are people within the DOJ trying to smear him, adding, “Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime.”
Carlson replied, “I don’t remember the woman you’re speaking of or the context at all, honestly.”
Whether or not Carlson’s “I don’t know her” defense is true, one thing was made abundantly clear: Carlson isn’t interested in Gaetz depicting him as a natural ally in a sex trafficking investigation involving a minor. Perhaps Gaetz should have brought up Carlson’s past sexual remarks about underage girls instead.
After a commercial break, Carlson described the Gatez interview as, “One of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted.” He also expressed skepticism as to whether their conversation provided much clarity.
Maybe that rumor about Gaetz heading to Newsmax has some truth to it after all.