A former aide to Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, said on Monday that he had lately been questioned by the F.B.I. as investigators search to find out whether or not the congressman violated federal sex trafficking laws.
The aide, Nathan Nelson, said that the F.B.I. brokers who confirmed up unannounced on Wednesday believed he might have resigned final yr after studying about “illegal activities” by the congressman. Speaking to a dozen reporters on Monday outdoors his residence in Santa Rosa, Fla., Mr. Nelson denied any such data and dismissed accusations of wrongdoing towards Mr. Gaetz as “baseless.”
“Neither I nor any members of Congressman Gaetz’s staff had any knowledge of illegal activities,” Mr. Nelson said. He added that he thought the investigation was “an attempt to discredit a very vocal conservative.”
Mr. Nelson, a retired Air Force captain who suggested Mr. Gaetz on navy points from 2017 to final fall, conceded that he had no “specific knowledge” of the Justice Department investigation, which is said to give attention to whether or not the congressman had intercourse with a 17-year-old lady and paid different ladies who have been recruited for intercourse.
Mr. Nelson’s remarks have been organized and publicized by Mr. Gaetz’s House workplace. They come as the congressman has moved aggressively — and at occasions misleadingly — to distract from the coronary heart of the inquiry and painting it as one other liberal witch hunt geared toward a conservative, like these focusing on his ally former President Donald J. Trump.
“Folks won’t be surprised that bizarre claims are being made about me shortly after I decided to take on the most powerful institutions in the Beltway: the establishment; the F.B.I.; the Biden Justice Department; the Cheney political dynasty; even the Justice Department under Trump,” Mr. Gaetz wrote in an Op-Ed on Monday in The Washington Examiner.
He said he was “not a monk, and certainly not a criminal” and denied having intercourse with a minor or paying for intercourse.
“To this point, there are exactly zero credible (or even noncredible) accusers willing to come forward by name and state on the public record that I behaved improperly toward them,” he wrote.
The Times first reported the existence of the investigation final Tuesday. People briefed on the case said it stems from a broader investigation into an affiliate of Mr. Gaetz’s, Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector in Seminole County, Fla., who has already been indicted on dozens of counts accusing him of an array of crimes, together with intercourse trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17.
Mr. Nelson, who’s partially paralyzed from a navy service damage, said he had not spoken to Mr. Gaetz in months and didn’t know Mr. Greenberg.