Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) insisted to a crowd of supporters in Florida on Friday that he was the victim of “the lies” and “the smears” of his critics as he faces a Justice Department inquiry into whether he broke sex trafficking laws.
“They lie about me because I tell the truth about them, and I’m not gonna stop,” Gaetz said at an event hosted at Trump National Doral Miami by the group Women for America First. “So when you see the leaks and the lies and the falsehoods and the smears, when you see the anonymous sources and insiders forecasting my demise, know this: They aren’t really coming for me. They’re coming for you. I’m just in the way.”
Big government, big tech, and big media would all breathe a sigh of relief if I were no longer in the Congress fighting for you.
Know this – they aren’t really coming for me, they’re coming for you.
I’m just in the way. pic.twitter.com/cZBfEy6Q14
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) April 10, 2021
The comments come as federal investigators examine Gaetz’s alleged involvement with women who were recruited online for sex and given cash payments, as well as whether he had sex with a 17-year-old.
A prosecutor involved in a case concerning Gaetz’s associate Joel Greenberg who was indicted on multiple charges including sex trafficking of a minor last year, has indicated that Greenberg would likely plead guilty to federal charges, potentially spelling trouble for Gaetz and paving the way for his cooperation as a witness against the congressman.
“I know this: Firebrands don’t retreat, especially when the battle for the soul of our country calls,” Gaetz said on Friday, seizing the event as an opportunity to cast himself simultaneously as both a conservative hero “built for the battle” and a victim.
“Big government, big tech, big business, big media — they’d all breathe a sigh of relief if I were no longer in the Congress fighting for you,” he said.
The Florida Republican also took aim at the press, mimicking a favorite attack point of former President Donald Trump who has routinely sought to cast the media as an enemy, while inventing his own reality.
“The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life to wild — and I mean wild — conspiracy theories. I won’t be intimidated by a lying media,”Gaetz said.
Gaetz claimed he had received support from “thousands” of Americans “at restaurants, walking through public parks, sometimes just out on the street, and emails,” amid the investigation, while citing “encouragement” from Trump and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH).
Earlier on Friday, the House Ethics Committee announced that it had opened its own investigation into the congressman, citing allegations about “sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use,” misused campaign funds, as well as allegations that Gaetz had flaunted nude images of women to other lawmakers on the House floor.
The Florida Republican has not been accused of any wrongdoing and has denied ever paying anyone for sex. He also also said that he did not have sex with anyone underage.
The GOP lawmaker has acquired legal representation and said in an op-ed earlier this week that he had no plans to resign.
“The truth will prevail,” Gaetz said on Friday.