Washington: Florida Republican Matt Gaetz says he will not leave Congress and denies that he “slept with” an underage girl, suggesting that accusations against him by political foes stem from anger that he “loathes the swamp”.
In a column appearing in the Washington Examiner, a conservative news outlet, the embattled politician predicted that “some of my feckless colleagues in Congress” would call for him to step down.
“No, I am absolutely not resigning,” he wrote on Monday (Tuesday AEDT) in one of his first public comments about the allegations.
Gaetz, starting his fifth year in Congress, has been battling to preserve his political career since reports last week that he was under federal investigation for possible sex crimes. An aggressive and high-profile ally of Donald Trump, Gaetz has so far received almost no public support from his congressional Republican colleagues and none from the former president.
The 38-year-old is under scrutiny by federal prosecutors over whether he had sex with a 17-year-old and other underage girls and violated federal sex trafficking laws. That’s according to people familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they could not discuss details publicly.
Gaetz, who has not been charged with any crimes, denied the accusations.
“First, I have never, ever paid for sex,” he wrote. “And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old.”
Engaged since New Year’s Eve, he wrote, “My lifestyle of yesteryear may be different from how I live now, but it was not and is not illegal.”