Newly published documents appear to back up Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-Fla.) claim that he and his family were victims of an extortion scheme.
In an email obtained and published by the Washington Examiner, a lawyer for Gaetz’s father Don, a former Florida state senator, asked the Department of Justice for confirmation that both the department and the FBI were seeking Don’s assistance.
“My client, Don Gaetz, was approached by two individuals to make a sizable payment in what I would call a scheme to defraud,” Jeffrey Neiman wrote. “The FBI is not asking Don to voluntarily and proactively assist in their investigation, which Don is willing to do. Please confirm that your Office and the FBI would like Don’s assistance in this matter and that he will be working at the Government’s request.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Goldberg replied, saying: “I can confirm that your client is working with my office as well as the FBI at the government’s request in order to determine if a federal crime has been committed. This has been discussed with, and approved by, the FBI as well as the leadership of my office and components of Main Justice.”
A source confirmed the authenticity of the message with The Epoch Times.
The FBI referred The Epoch Times to the Department of Justice, which didn’t return an inquiry. Aides to Rep. Gaetz didn’t respond to requests for comment. Neiman declined to comment.
Other documents made public by the Examiner allegedly outlined the supposed extortion scheme. One text, reportedly sent on March 16 from Florida lawyer Don McGee to Don Gaetz, proposed a plan that could make his son’s “future legal and political problems go away.” The plan involved aiding an attempt to secretly arrange the release of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who vanished in Iran in 2007.
Don Gaetz the next day met with another man allegedly involved in the scheme, former Air Force officer Bob Kent, according to the Examiner. During the meeting, Don Gaetz was presented with a three-page document dubbed “Project Homecoming” that sought a $25 million loan for the purpose of rescuing Levinson.
Levinson’s family said last year that U.S. officials believe Levinson died while in Iranian custody.
An inquiry to McGee went unreturned. Kent could not be reached.
McGee told the Daily Beast that any reports of extortion involving him were “completely, totally false.”
The documents were published after a fraught several days for Rep. Gaetz, a rising star in the GOP. The situation started when the New York Times, citing anonymous sources, claimed he was under investigation for having a relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
Gaetz, 38, went on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Tuesday and denied the claims.
“The New York Times is running a story that I have traveled with a 17-year-old woman and that is verifiably false. People can look at my travel records and see that that is not the case. What is happening is an extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official,” he said, referring to McGee.
Gaetz asked the Department of Justice and the FBI to release audio recordings he said were obtained through his father, who wore a wire as part of the investigation into the alleged extortion scheme.
“I do believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to smear me. Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime,” Gaetz added. “And I’m just troubled that the lack of any sort of legitimate investigation into me would then permute, would then convert into this extortion attempt.”