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Rep. Matt Gaetz

Photo by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Tuesday night's bombshell report that Rep. Matt Gaetz is under DOJ investigation for a possible relationship with a 17-year old took another wild turn when New York Times reporter Katie Benner revealed Attorney General Bill Barr or officials in his office approved the investigation.

Benner also went further in the interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night, revealing that the Justice Department investigation began not late last year, but earlier, at the end of last summer, "so it's been going on for more than six months."

"This is a serious investigation that was serious enough that even the highest levels of the Justice Department, including the Office of Attorney General Bill Barr, said that it should continue," Benner explained.

She also questioned why Rep. Gaetz went public with specific details after the New York Times published its report, saying that by doing so the Florida Republican congressman "blew up" the FBI's investigation by naming the former DOJ official Gaetz claims is blackmailing him and his family in a $25 million "extortion" scheme.

"I think one of the reasons why he has talked publicly about this extortion and one of the reasons why he's publicly said that the FBI has asked his own father to wear a wire is in order to try to get people to not pay attention to the fact [that] the Trump administration thought it worthy to investigate him," Benner said

"In publicly talking about the extortion plot that he's described and publicly saying his father wore a wire, he's basically destroying and blowing up the FBI investigation, which is in itself something you would think would be against his own interest," Benner added.

Gaetz is denying he did anything wrong, including denying having a sexual relationship with a 17-year old girl, and instead blamed the former DOJ official. But Benner said both stories could be true: there is an investigation into his actions authorized at the highest levels of the DOJ, and that a former DOJ official found out and is blackmailing him. She did not state Gaetz's extortion claim was true, only that it is possible.

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