The report by The Times said federal investigators are looking into whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and broke federal sex trafficking laws.
"The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences", writes the Times.
Gaetz labeled the Times story as a "planted leak" that was "intended to thwart" the investigation.
Officials told NBC News that the investigation into Gaetz began previous year when an associate of his, Joel Greenberg, a former county tax collector in Florida, was indicted on charges tied to allegations that he had harassed a political opponent, who worked at a local school, through letters sent to his opponent's employer and through several fictitious social media accounts.
Fox News host Dana Perino on Wednesday put House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on the hot seat over revelations that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is being probed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for potential sex trafficking charges.
He ended the interview with Gaetz shortly thereafter and tossed to commercial.
The Florida congressman said the former DOJ official who is allegedly trying to extort him is David McGee, now a lawyer at a Florida-based law firm. It is out of this investigation, officials told NBC News, that authorities developed a lead that persuaded them to investigate whether Gaetz had been involved with sex trafficking of a minor girl.
I don't know how you can criminalize someone's sexual misconduct unless that conduct is, you know, criminal, but okay!
In response to that claim, Carlson says: 'I don't remember the women you're speaking of or the context at all honestly'.
He added, "I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward". What does that statement mean??
He alleged that the woman had been "threatened" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and told "she could face trouble" if she didn't confess to authorities that Gaetz was involved in a "pay-for-play scheme". "Now, I don't know if that's true". "I don't quite understand it".
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But without a doubt, the weirdest interview Gaetz has given was to Fox News' Tucker Carlson.
McGee, by the way, who no longer works at the DOJ, denied all of this, telling the Washington Post, "It is completely false". People can look at my travel records and see that that is not the case'.
Yikes. But back to Tucker.
As one DOJ veteran told Insider, the timeline doesn't necessarily mean Gaetz's claims of an extortion scheme are untrue, but it does indicate the department's probe was not launched as a result of any such scheme. "You were accused of something you did not do so you know what this feels like". And again, the investigation into Gaetz's alleged behavior started during the Trump administration.
Gaetz said he has provided financially for former sexual partners but said he was "absolutely" confident none of them were underage.
Later, unprompted, Gaetz makes mentions of allegations of pictures showing him with child prostitutes.
"I can say that actually, you and I went to dinner about two years ago, your wife was there, and I brought a friend of mine, you'll remember her".
He continued: "Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you're dating who are of legal age is not a crime. And I'm just troubled the lack of any sort of legitimate investigation into me would then permute, would then convert into this extortion attempt".
Gaetz did get backing from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., the hard-right freshman who's had more than her share of run-ins since arriving in Congress this year.
Carlson, who appeared stunned following the segment, told his audience it was "one of the weirdest interviews" he has ever done and that it "certainly showed this as a deeply interesting story".
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is trying to tell us that he's not going down alone.
Mr Gaetz said his family has been cooperating with the FBI and that he and his father had been wearing a recording device at the bureau's request "to catch these criminals".