Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) further nuked himself on Tuesday night in a bizarre interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Gaetz began the interview by repeating his earlier statement denying the New York Times article reporting that federal prosecutors are investigating the congressman over a possible relationship with a 17-year old girl, including whether he paid her to travel with him across state lines.
Gaetz invited anyone to “look at my travel records and see that that was not the case.”
He then launched into a timeline: on March 16, Gaetz said, a former DOJ official texted Gaetz’s father “demanding a meeting wherein a person demanded $25 million” in order to make “horrible sex trafficking allegations against me go away.”
Gaetz then said that he approached the FBI, who had his father “wear a wire” while with the supposedly extortionate former DOJ official. He then demanded that the FBI “release the recordings” to prove, once and for all, that the allegations were untrue.
The Florida congressman added that the article, published on Tuesday, came too early: it was tomorrow, Gaetz maintained, that Gaetz’s father had planned to contact the former DOJ official for instructions to wire $4.5 million as a “down payment on this bribe.”
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that somehow, tonight, the New York Times is smearing me and ruining the investigation that would likely result in one of the former colleagues of the DOJ being brought to justice,” he said. Gaetz later elaborated that the money transfer was supposedly part of a secret, QAnon-esque FBI plot to take down the extortionist only to be foiled by a New York Times bent on disrupting the investigation.
Throughout this, Carlson maintained his standard bewildered glare. He then asked who the former DOJ employee was.
Gaetz named the person as David McGee, a Florida attorney. McGee did not immediately return a request for comment from TPM. Gaetz accused McGee of offering a pardon from Biden in exchange for the bribe, bringing the absurdity of the story to a level not seen at least since Trump’s departure from office.
There is no evidence to substantiate anything that Gaetz is saying. The interview left Carlson visibly perturbed as he tried to have Gaetz elaborate further, particularly after the Florida congressman repeatedly claimed that Carlson had been accused of sexual wrongdoing.
“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 you did not do so you know what this feels like.”
Carlson, grimacing and nodding, replied: “You just referred to a mentally ill viewer who accused me of a sex crime 20 years ago, and, um, of course it was not true — I never met the person.”
“I’m not the only person on screen right now who has been falsely accused of a terrible sex act,” Gaetz told the Fox News host. pic.twitter.com/OJF6osXMbr
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) March 31, 2021
The Fox News host then directed Gaetz to “return to the investigation,” at which point the vocal Trump supporter returned to bear-hugging Carlson.
He recounted a dinner Gaetz had had with Carlson, Carlson’s wife, and a “friend” of his two years before.
“She was actually threatened by the FBI,” he said. “I do believe that there are people at the DOJ who are trying to smear me.”
“Providing flights and hotel rooms for people you are dating of legal age is not a crime,” Gaetz added, fuming.
Carlson, grimacing agin, replied: “I don’t remember the woman you’re speaking of or the context at all.”
Carlson then asked who the person was that Gaetz was accused of dating while she was underage. Gaetz denied that she existed or was underage, but then, when Carlson asked when Gaetz was first informed of the DOJ probe, the Florida congressman delivered the coup de grâce: denying that the 17-year old existed, while also denying furiously that there were photos taken of him with child prostitutes.
“People were talking about a minor, that there were pictures of me with child prostitutes, thats obviously false, there will be no such pictures because no such thing happened,” Gaetz said.
There have been no public allegations to date of Gaetz being photographed with child prostitutes.
“It’s a more interesting and complicated story than I knew from reading about it,” Carlson concluded, in possibly the most hilarious instance of understatement this year.