House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Thursday that he has spoken to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) about the allegations against him, and that Gaetz maintained his innocence.
Gaetz is, reportedly, under investigation for possible sex trafficking of a minor.
When prodded by reporters about what it would take for him to remove Gaetz from his committees or otherwise punish him, McCarthy indicated that he’s waiting for an indictment.
“Matt Gaetz is the same as any American, he’s innocent until proven guilty,” McCarthy said, adding: “There are no charges against him yet. If a charge comes forward, that would be dealt with at that time.”
McCarthy declined to answer directly when a reporter asked if anything short of a charge could emerge in the meantime to change his mind on punishing Gaetz, protesting that the question was a “hypothetical.” McCarthy also said that he’d made the caucus rules clear to Gaetz. The House minority leader has previously said that Gaetz would be booted from his committees if he is indicted.
At the end of Thursday’s press conference, McCarthy said that he’d never seen any red flags in Gaetz’s behavior. CNN reported earlier this month that Gaetz had shown naked pictures of women he’d slept with to other lawmakers on the House floor.
Gaetz returned to Congress to vote this week, flocked by reporters, while details about his case keep trickling out. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Joel Greenberg, Gaetz’s friend and former Seminole County tax collector whose many criminal charges reportedly led investigators to Gaetz, has been cooperating with the Justice Department since last year.