There are degrees to scandals these days. We’ve become so used to knowing something illicit about our elected officials that it doesn’t phase us anymore. These are the controversies that make up the underlying current of any political conversation, with each side acquiescing to the fact that they’ve each got a few points still to make before they’ve exhausted their verbal ammunition.
But, I digress.
These days it takes something fairly astonishing to even raise an eyebrow in Washington DC. That’s why this mess that Matt Gaetz has gotten himself into is making the rounds.
Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, according to three people briefed on the matter.
Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, the people said. A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences.
It was not clear how Mr. Gaetz met the girl, believed to be 17 at the time of encounters about two years ago that investigators are scrutinizing, according to two of the people.
But there is oh, so much more.
Mr. Gaetz said in an interview that his lawyers had been in touch with the Justice Department and that they were told he was the subject, not the target, of an investigation. “I only know that it has to do with women,” Mr. Gaetz said. “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”
Mr. Gaetz called the investigation part of an elaborate scheme involving “false sex allegations” to extort him and his family for $25 million that began this month. He said he and his father, Don Gaetz, had been cooperating with the F.B.I. and “wearing a wire” after they were approached by people saying they could make the investigation “go away.” Mr. Gaetz claimed the disclosure of the sex trafficking inquiry was intended to thwart an investigation into the extortion plot.
And no, that’s not the end of it either.
Details surrounding the claim by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., that he is the victim of an extortion plot involving allegations of a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old now portend to connect it to a search for an FBI agent who went missing in Iran 14 years ago.
According to documents obtained and reported by the Washington Examiner, Gaetz’s family was approached by former Air Force intelligence officer Bob Kent, who claimed that he had located former agent Robert Levinson, whose family presumed him to be dead. Kent reportedly sought a $25 million loan to fund an operation to rescue Levinson, and promised to help the congressman with legal woes in return.
This thing has gone full tilt in less than 24 hours, which is not only an incredibly volatile situation for Congressman Gaetz, but belies the fact that we’ve only begun to unravel this already torrid tale. Who knows what sort of wilderness is left to explore here.
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