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House Ethics Committee opens investigation into Matt Gaetz

The House Ethics Committee announced Friday it has opened an investigation into Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. The investigation comes after multiple sources told CBS News that federal investigators are probing whether the Florida man violated sex trafficking laws. 

Multiple sources have told CBS News federal investigators are looking into a Bahamas trip Gaetz allegedly took in late 2018 or early 2019 as a part of their inquiry. Gaetz also faces allegations that he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel with him, which he has denied. 

“The committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Matt Gaetz may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House rules, laws or other standards,” the committee said Friday.

Gaetz’ office responded to the news of the probe Friday.

“Once again, the office will reiterate, these allegations are blatantly false and have not been validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them,” his office said. 

In a statement to CBS News on Wednesday, Gaetz’s office said he “has never paid for sex, nor has he had sex with an underage girl.”

“What began with blaring headlines about ‘sex trafficking’ has now turned into a general fishing exercise about vacations and consensual relationships with adults,” Gaetz’s office added. “Yesterday, we even learned of some nonsense ‘pardon’ story that turned out to be false, and today it’s just more euphemism. It’s interesting to watch the Washington wheels grinding so hard every time one of their falsehoods gets knocked down.”

The Democratic-run House Ethics Committee on Friday also announced it’s opening an investigation into Republican Congressman Tom Reed, who faces an allegation of sexual misconduct. New York’s Reed has already announced he will not run for reelection in 2022, and apologized following sexual misconduct claims a former lobbyist made against him. 

“The committee notes the mere fact that it is investigating these allegations, and publicly disclosing its review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee,” the committee said in announcing both probes. “No other public comment will be made on this matter in accordance with committee rules.” 

Neither Gaetz nor Reed immediately responded to CBS News’ request for comment on the investigations. 

Gaetz, who is refusing to resign, did preemptively ask then-President Trump for a blanket pardon before the ex-president left office, according to two sources familiar with the situation. Mr. Trump said in a statement that Gaetz did not ask him for a pardon, but the real estate mogul did not specifically address whether Gaetz had asked anyone else at the White House for a pardon. Gaetz has been one of Mr. Trump’s most outspoken allies. 

 — Sara Cook, Nicole Sganga, Rebecca Kaplan, Major Garrett, Michael Kaplan, Clare Hymes and Jessica Kegu contributed to this report

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