Matt Gaetz said he was focusing on socialism, not scandals, as federal authorities reportedly obtained the cooperation of an ex-girlfriend in his investigation into the alleged sex trafficking.
As the congressman held a rally in Arizona on Friday, CNN reported that a former Capitol Hill staff member has become a key witness in helping authorities understand transaction records related to his investigation.
It follows the formal plea deal between the Justice Department and Mr Gaetz’s former ally Joel greenberg.
“I’m not too worried about Joel Greenberg,” Gaetz said Friday.
“Joel Greenberg is literally in jail right now because he initially accused an innocent person of having a relationship with a minor. It wasn’t true, it was just a false thing Joel Greenberg had said and it gave him quite a bit of trouble.
The former Seminole County tax collector pleaded guilty to sex trafficking a minor and five other counts in a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
A spokesman for Mr Gaetz previously said there was no reference to the congressman in the plea, which according to CNN mentionned Mr Greenberg had sex with a girl “at least seven times when she was a minor” and “introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts with the minor”.
Speaking to Newsmax before appearing at a rally in Arizona with Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mr Gaetz said he “wasn’t focused on the scandal, I’m focused on socialism and what it’s doing at our country”.
As the congressman brushed aside the importance of Mr Greenberg’s plea arrangement, CNN said a woman linked to his Capitol Hill office as early as the summer of 2017 agreed to speak to investigators.
Quoting “two people familiar with the matter,” the outlet reported that they could not confirm whether she had entered into a formal cooperation agreement. His lawyer Timothy Jansen declined to comment on CNN.
Mr. Gaetz has not been charged with any crime and has vigorously denied all allegations made against him.