Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois called for fellow Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida to resign on Thursday amid a federal probe into allegations that Gaetz was involved in sex trafficking.
Gaetz, who has not been charged with any crime, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. He is also scheduled Friday to headline a dinner for Women for America First, a pro-Trump group, at the Trump National Doral in Florida.
"Matt Gaetz needs to resign," Kinzinger wrote in a tweet linking to a Daily Beast story about Gaetz, who's become enmeshed in an investigation into former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg.
Greenberg has been hit with 33 charges in federal court in Florida, including stalking, wire fraud and sex trafficking of a minor. In a brief hearing in his case in Orlando on Thursday, Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller, and federal prosecutors told the judge they expect him to strike a plea deal.
The parties did not signal if Greenberg was expected to cooperate in the investigation into Gaetz. “I’m sure Matt Gaetz isn’t feeling very comfortable today," Scheller said outside the courthouse after the hearing.
Federal investigators are looking into whether Gaetz paid women to travel to the Bahamas for sex, NBC News reported Wednesday night. In a statement to CBS responding to reports about the Bahamas investigation, a spokesperson for Gaetz denied that he had ever paid for sex and called it "a general fishing exercise about vacations and consensual relationships with adults."
Investigators are also looking into whether Gaetz and Greenberg used the internet to search for women they could pay for sex. The New York Times has reported that he's being investigated for allegedly trafficking a 17-year-old.
A spokeswoman working for Gaetz outside his congressional office, Erin Elmore of the Logan Circle Group, said Friday that he has hired attorneys to push back against the swirl of allegations.
"Matt has always been a fighter. A fighter for his constituents, a fighter for the country, and a fighter for the Constitution. He's going to fight back against the unfounded allegations against him. His legal team, led by Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, will take the fight to those trying to smear his name with falsehoods," Elmore said.
Gaetz is a close ally of former President Donald Trump and Mukasey, a former federal prosecutor, has represented members of the Trump family and is defending the former president in investigations by the New York Attorney General and Manhattan District Attorney's offices.
Kirshner's previous clients include former New York A.G. Eric Schneiderman, who resigned after being accused of physically abusing four women. He was not charged criminally because of statute of limitations issues.
In an op-ed in The Washington Examiner on Monday, Gaetz wrote: "Since I'm taking my turn under the gun, let me address the allegations against me directly. First, I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old."
Gaetz has vowed not to resign, and said the "bizarre claims" against him were retaliation for challenging "the most powerful institutions in the Beltway."
The women's group that the embattled lawmaker will address Friday night tweeted this week that Gaetz "has been a fearless leader in DC. Few members of Congress have been more willing than Matt to stand up & fight on behalf of President Trump & his America First Agenda."
Kinzinger, who was one of nine Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and has butted heads with Gaetz before, said the Women for America First tweet shows "Our politics are broken."
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