The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tucker Carlson

Screenshot from Fox News

After the New York Times reported that Rep. Matt Gaetz is under federal investigation on the suspicion of sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl, the Florida Republican found himself seeking a safe space to fight back against the allegations in Fox News' prime time hour with host Tucker Carlson. But after the interview, Carlson himself told viewers he was left flummoxed by the exchange and didn't know what to think about the story.

"If you just saw our Matt Gaetz interview, that was one of the weirdest interviews I've ever conducted," Carlson told his audience. "That story just appeared in the news a couple of hours ago. And on the certainty that there's always more than what you read in the newspaper, we immediately called Matt Gaetz and asked him to come on and tell us more. Which as you saw, he did. I don't think that clarified much. But it certainly showed that this is a deeply interesting story. And we'll be following it. Don't quite understand it. But we'll bring you more when we find out."

So what was so "weird" about the interview for Carlson?

For one thing, Gaetz made the interview uncomfortably personal. Gaetz claimed that a woman he had dated, and who had met Carlson and his wife at a dinner a few years back, had been "threatened" by the FBI as part of the investigation. Carlson seemed a bit taken aback and didn't welcome being brought into the narrative.

"I don't remember the woman or the context at all honestly," Carlson told Gaetz.

Gaetz also claimed that he was being falsely smeared by people at the Justice Department, and he tried to commiserate with Carlson over an allegation the host had previously faced. Carlson didn't seem to welcome this anecdote, etiher.

"You just referred to a mentally ill viewer who accused me of a sex crime 20 years ago," Carlson said. "And of course it wasn't true. I had never met the person."

Gaetz's story about the investigation is a bit hard to parse. He accused a former DOJ official of trying to extort him for money over the allegations, citing a March 16 text message to his father that led to an in-person meeting with the alleged extortionist. And he said that he had worked with the FBI in an investigation into the extortion, which led to his father wearing a wire. Gaetz called on the FBI and DOJ to release the tapes, claiming they would exonerate him.

But he also seemed to suggest that people currently in the FBI were trying to set him up, apparently separately from the former DOJ official who is trying to extort him. And he was much more eager to talk about the supposed extortion plot than about the FBI investigation. When Carlson asked Gaetz when he first became aware of the FBI investigation into the suspicion of sex trafficking, Gaetz awkwardly refused to answer. He only referred back to the March 16 text message. He even named a person, David McGee, who used to work for the DOJ as the person who has been extorting him, though this claim has not been corroborated. Katie Benner, who broke the story for the Times, later argued that Gaetz is trying to distract from the fact that the investigation into his conduct began under Attorney General Bill Barr — making it less likely that it arose as a partisan plot against him.

The New York Times story, Gaetz said, was planted to "quell" the extortion investigation.

He also unprompted brought up an allegation that there were pictures of him with child prostitutes, a claim that had not appeared in the New York Times article about the investigation.


Gaetz again suggested, as he had already in response to the Times reporting, that he pays for trips and travel for his girlfriends (none of whom, he said, were underage) and that this spending was being distorted into a sex trafficking claim.

"I have not had a relationship with a 17-year-old," he said.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Donald Trump

Youtube Screenshot

New details about the direct role that Donald Trump played in developing a strategy to overturn the 2020 election were revealed in a federal court filing from election coup attorney John Eastman late Thursday.

Eastman is several months into a battle to keep records of his work for Trump in the run-up to January 6 confidential. but in his latest parry to bar access to emails he says should be protected under attorney-client privilege, he has revealed that Trump sent him at least “two hand-written notes” containing information “he thought might be useful for the anticipated litigation” challenging election results.

Keep reading... Show less

Rep. Matt Gaetz

Youtube Screenshot

Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are defending their vote to restrict low-income families' ability to buy formula during the ongoing shortage.

Two Republican lawmakers are upset that Congress overwhelmingly voted to ease restrictions for poor families to purchase infant formula during the current shortage, saying that allowing low-income families to obtain life-sustaining nutrition for their infants comes at the expense of more well-off families.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}