On Thursday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that Representative Matt Gaetz, who is currently under federal investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct, is “innocent until proven guilty.”
According to The Associated Press, McCarthy said that Republicans are not planning on punishing Gaetz unless there are charges that are filed against the Republican congressman from Florida.
As reported by The Daily Wire:
The New York Times reported earlier this month that Gaetz, 38, is facing a Department of Justice investigation into whether he paid for sex and whether he engaged in sex with a 17-year-old girl. The DOJ investigation reportedly began last year and “grew out of an open investigation into” Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector “who was indicted last year on a charge of sex trafficking and other counts,” according to The New York Times.
“Matt Gaetz is the same as any American, he’s innocent until proven guilty,” McCarthy said regarding the allegations made against the 38-year-old congressman. “There’s no charges against him yet. If a charge comes forward, that will be dealt with at that time.”
McCarthy confirmed that he has spoken with Representative Gaetz, who has told the minority leader that he is innocent. McCarthy also said that he explained the rules of the conference to Gaetz and that they would take action if something were to come out.
The Associated Press reported that McCarthy was asked whether or not Republicans would take action against Gaetz if more details are revealed before charges are made. McCarthy answered, “That’s a hypothetical question. I’ll deal with whatever issue as it comes. As of right now, Matt Gaetz says he is innocent, there’s an investigation going on, and I’ll let the investigation take care of itself.”
Charges have yet to be filed against Gaetz and he has publicly stated that he is innocent. At a speech on April 9th in Miami, the congressman said, “I have not yet begun to fight … I’m built for the battle and I’m not going anywhere … The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life to wild — and I mean wild — conspiracy theories.”
Gaetz has also claimed that a former Department of Justice official tried to extort him and members of his family, which the DOJ official has denied and said is a distraction attempt by Gaetz.
Last week, the House Ethics Committee also launched an investigation into the allegations made against the Florida congressman.
In a joint written statement, members of the committee said:
The Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Matt Gaetz may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct. The Committee, pursuant to Committee Rule 18(a), has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding the allegations.
The Committee notes that the mere fact that it is investigating these allegations, and publicly disclosing its review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee. No other public comment will be made on this matter except in accordance with Committee rules.
The Associated Press reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said that pulling Gaetz from his committees is “the least that could be done” to punish him if the charges against him prove to be true.