Since it's difficult for all but the most plugged-in news junkies to keep up with, we've put together a link roundup of all the major updates in chronological order. So clear your schedule, get your notebook ready, and prepare to create more than a few Charlie Kelly-style flow charts — there's a lot to unpack here.
"Matt Gaetz is said to face Justice Dept. inquiry over sex with an underage girl," New York Times. The Times first reported that the DOJ was investigating allegations that Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and looking into whether he had paid for her cross-state travel, which could be a violation of federal sex-trafficking laws. The Times said the probe stemmed from a criminal investigation into former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector Joel Greenberg, who is has been indicted for misappropriating taxpayer money and sex trafficking a minor, among other charges.
"Matt Gaetz responds to sex trafficking allegations," Tucker Carlson Tonight. In an interview Carlson himself described as "weird," Gaetz denied the allegations in the Times story and said he was the victim of a $25 million extortion plot, claiming that his father, Don Gaetz, was wearing a wire to help the FBI expose the scam.
"Gaetz investigation complicated by overture to his father about ex-FBI agent who went missing," Washington Post. The alleged extortion plot is tied to Iranian hostage Bob Levinson, a retired FBI agent from Florida who went missing in Iran in 2007. Gaetz claimed that lawyers for Levinson approached his father, Don Gaetz, and said that if the family put up $25 million for Levinson's release, the DOJ would drop the sex-trafficking investigation against Gaetz they'd heard about. The attorneys denied any characterizations of extortion, saying they were simply trying to advocate for Levinson's release and thought the congressman had an incentive to help play a part in the hostage's return to the U.S.
"Justice Dept. inquiry Into Matt Gaetz said to be focused on cash paid to women," New York Times. The Times reported that the DOJ is investigating allegations that Gaetz and Greenberg used apps like Apple Pay and Cash App to pay for sex with women they recruited on online "sugar daddy" websites, and that they sometimes took ecstasy "before having sex." A source told the Times that one of the women also had sex with "an unidentified associate of theirs in Florida Republican politics." Gaetz denied paying for sex.
"Gaetz showed nude photos of women he said he'd slept with to lawmakers, sources tell CNN," CNN. Sources alleged that Gaetz had shown nude photos and videos of women he had sex with to his colleagues in the House of Representatives, including while on the House floor.
"Rep. Matt Gaetz: The swamp is out to drown me with false charges, but I'm not giving up," Washington Examiner. In an op-ed for the right-leaning Washington Examiner, Gaetz claimed he was being targeted for his support of Donald Trump and said that he considered the accusations mere sex shaming. "Consensual adult relationships are not illegal," he wrote.
"Matt Gaetz, loyal for years to Trump, is said to have sought a blanket pardon," New York Times. Sources told the Times that before Trump left office, Gaetz sought "blanket pre-emptive pardons for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed." Both Gaetz and Trump denied that.
"Matt Gaetz trip to Bahamas is part of federal probe into sex trafficking, sources say," CBS News. The Gaetz probe is first linked to Jason Pirozzolo, a Florida hand surgeon and marijuana mogul. CBS reported that investigators were looking into whether Pirozzolo paid for travel expenses and escorts for Gaetz during a trip to the Bahamas in late 2018 or early 2019.
"Matt Gaetz under fire: Here's what we know," Florida Politics. Sources told Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch that Halsey Beshears, former secretary of Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation, is the third Republican "unidentified associate" involved in the sex allegations against Gaetz and Greenberg. Beshears resigned from office in January, citing health issues.
"Gaetz's female staffers defend boss amid DOJ probe," The Hill. A letter from women who work in Gaetz's office stated that "at no time has any one of us experienced or witnessed anything less than the utmost professionalism and respect." None of the women signed by name.
"Indicted Matt Gaetz associate is expected to plead guilty, lawyers say," New York Times. Attorneys for Greenberg said in court that he plans to plead guilty, with one of the lawyers suggesting that might be bad news for Gaetz. The Times also reported that investigators were probing an allegation that Gaetz and a lobbyist were involved in planting a fake candidate in a Florida Senate race last year in order to influence the outcome. In the same story, the Times provided additional detail about the Bahamas trip, saying that when immigration authorities stopped two planes carrying Gaetz's group upon its return to Fort Lauderdale, Beshears was among the passengers.
"Gaetz paid accused sex trafficker, who then Venmo'd teen," Daily Beast. Per the Daily Beast, in May 2018, Gaetz paid $900 to Greenberg in two transactions. One of those transactions was sent with the memo "hit up [redacted name of young woman]." Greenberg then forwarded the payments to three young women with the memos "Tuition," "School," and "School."
"House opens ethics investigation into Florida Republican Matt Gaetz," Washington Post. The House Ethics Committee announced that it had opened an investigation into the allegations against Gaetz.