The Matt Gaetz Story Is Somehow Getting Even Weirder

Alleged extortion, screenshots, and a missing FBI agent.
April 1, 2021, 3:03pm
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks to the media at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (Paul Hennessy SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks to the media at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (Paul Hennessy SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

The reported Justice Department investigation into whether Congressman Matt Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old has somehow become even more chaotic, as details of an alleged extortion plot against Gaetz’s family now includes a bid to ensure the release of an FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 and is believed to be dead. 

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The conservative Washington Examiner published text messages and documents Wednesday that appeared to confirm that the Gaetz family was approached to “make his future legal and political problems go away” by funding an effort to “clandestinely obtain the release” of the agent.

None of the documents provided to the Examiner includes an attempt to blackmail the Gaetz family, but instead uses the purported criminal case against Gaetz as leverage. The document contained the purported details of a grand jury hearing where “at least one underage female has testified that Congressman Gaetz has paid her to engage in sexual activities.” The Department of Justice has so far declined to comment on any investigation into Gaetz, and didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from VICE News.

The document also claims the FBI had uncovered “compromising pictures, depicting ‘Congressman Gaetz and an Election Official 'involved in a sexual orgy with underage prostitutes’ in Maitland, Florida, during an unrelated investigation into political corruption and public integrity in another criminal case." Gaetz denied the allegations of soliciting child prostitutes in a baffling appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show Tuesday

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Levinson, a former FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency agent, is officially known as the longest-held American hostage in the history of the country. He was captured in 2007 while on a mission for the CIA, as the Associated Press later reported, though the Iranian government has continued to insist it doesn’t know Levinson’s whereabouts.

Levinson’s family said in a statement last March that they had received information from U.S. officials concluding that Levinson, who would be 73 years old today, had died in captivity. 

But in the text messages to Don Gaetz, a former leader of the Florida Senate and Matt Gaetz’s father, a person who the Gaetz family says is a man named Bob Kent says that “we”—it’s unclear who “we” is—“located Robert Levinson in Iran and took two proof of life videos, but the U.S. government foiled our rescue attempt." 

Kent, a former Air Force intelligence officer who has made multiple media appearances as a purported expert on human trafficking, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from VICE News. 

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The following day, Don Gaetz met with Kent and was allegedly given documents outlining a plan called “Project Homecoming.” The plan essentially said that if Gaetz gave Kent and former federal prosecutor David McGee $25 million for the rescue attempt and it resulted in Levinson’s release, Gaetz would be given full credit and that those who brought Levinson back to the U.S. would “strongly advocate that President Biden issue a Presidential Pardon, or instruct the Department of Justice to terminate any and all investigations involving Congressman Gaetz." 

Beggs & Lane, the law firm where McGee works, issued a statement to the Washington Post Wednesday saying Gaetz’s claims were “false and defamatory.” 

The document also says Biden himself had “assured” them that he would “strongly consider such matters because he considers the release of Robert Levinson a matter of National Urgency.” The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from VICE News.

The Examiner also published a March 25 email from Assistant U.S. Attorney David Goldberg confirming that Don Gaetz was cooperating with the feds on "at the government's request in order to determine if a federal crime has been committed."

After the New York Times reported Tuesday that Gaetz was being investigated over whether he had sex with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travel, which would violate federal sex trafficking laws, Gaetz denied the investigation would uncover any wrongdoing.

“I do believe there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to smear me,” Gaetz said in his interview with Tucker Carlson Tuesday. “Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people who you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime.”