By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, has denied the allegations that he was involved in sex trafficking.

The Department of Justice’s investigation into Gaetz is focused on payments he, and former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, allegedly made to women for sex, according to the latest report in the New York Times.

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The Times reported the meetups happened in 2019 and 2020 and that the men paid the women via mobile apps, and sometimes cash.

The Republican lawmaker has not been charged and vehemently denies the accusations.

“It is a horrible allegation, and it is a lie,” Gaetz said.

According to the Times and AP, investigators are also looking into whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws by allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paying for her to travel with him.

Gaetz has called the story “verifiably false.” He said the allegations of impropriety were an attempt to criminalize his “generosity to ex-girlfriends” and claims the accusations are part of a multi-million dollar extortion scheme.

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“The person doesn’t exist. I have not had a relationship with a 17-year-old. That is totally false,” he said during an appearance on Fox last Wednesday.

Political leadership on both sides said they are waiting to see what the investigation turns up.

“I haven’t heard anything from the DOJor others, but I will deal with it if any of it comes to be true,” said House minority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

“If in fact these allegations are true, of course being removed from the Judiciary Committee is the least that could be done,” said House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

At least one Democratic lawmaker, though, is already demanding Gaetz be removed from the Judiciary Committee until the investigation is complete.

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A former Justice Department official confirmed to CBS News the probe began at least last summer and former Attorney General Bill Barr was aware of it. CNN is also reporting Gaetz shared with fellow lawmakers, sometimes while on the House floor, photos and videos of nude women he said he had slept with. Team