Matt Gaetz said he’s focused on socialism, not scandals, as federal authorities reportedly secured the cooperation of an ex-girlfriend in its investigation into alleged sex trafficking.
As the Congressman held a rally in Arizona on Friday, CNN reported that a former Capitol Hill staffer emerged as a critical witness to help authorities understand records of transactions linked to its investigation.
It follows the formal plea agreement between the Justice Department and Mr Gaetz’s former ally Joel Greenberg.
“I’m not too worried about Joel Greenberg,” Mr Gaetz said on Friday.
“Joel Greenberg is literally sitting in jail right now because he originally accused someone who was innocent of having had a relationship with a minor. That wasn’t true, it was just a false thing that Joel Greenberg had said and that’s landed him in quite a bit of trouble.”
The former Seminole County tax collector pleaded guilty to sex trafficking a minor and five other charges as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.
A spokesman for Mr Gaetz previously said there was no reference to the Congressman in the plea, which according to CNN said Mr Greenberg had sex with a girl “at least seven times when she was a minor” and “introduced the Minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts with the Minor”.
Speaking to Newsmax before appearing at an Arizona rally with Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mr Gaetz said he’s “not focused on scandal, I’m focused on socialism and what it’s doing to our country.”
As the Congressman was brushing off the significance of Mr Greenberg’s plea arrangement, CNN said a woman linked to his Capitol Hill office as far back as summer 2017 agreed to speak to investigators.
Quoting “two people familiar with the matter”, the outlet reported they couldn’t confirm whether she had reached a formal cooperation agreement. Her lawyer Timothy Jansen declined to comment to CNN.
Mr Gaetz has not been charged with any crime and has strenuously denied all of the allegations against him.