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Orgies, blackmail, extortion, Iran hostages: The crazy claims against Florida Rep

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Rep. Mat Gaetz is in the middle of a heap of scandals, including being investigated by the Justice Department for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old girl.

An alleged orgy with prostitutes. Accusations of sex with an underage girl. A trophy photo of a woman wearing only a hula hoop. And a convoluted extortion plot involving a likely dead American hostage in Iran.

Even by Florida standards, the Matt Gaetz saga is downright bizarre — and getting weirder by the day.

Before this week, the young Sunshine State congressman and ally of former President Donald Trump was best known, like his mentor, for his ambitious conservatism and promontory coiffure.

But this week, the Republican has faced a daily flurry of scandalous ­headlines.

Most seriously, he is being investigated by the Justice Department for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old girl, and for paying for her to travel with him across state lines, potentially violating federal sex-trafficking laws.

Gaetz denies the allegations — but not the fact of the investigation.

Then, on Thursday, CNN alleged that he had shown fellow lawmakers nude photos of women he said he’d slept with, including one photographed wearing a hula hoop, and nothing else.

There have also been claims by two of Gaetz’s enemies that the FBI has photos of him in a “sexual orgy with underage prostitutes.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz is seen posing with shorts on an Instagram post, captioning “Covid work!”.
Rep. Matt Gaetz is seen posing with shorts on an Instagram post, captioning “Covid work!”
Instagram

It’s all enough to make his penchant for posing on Instagram without pants, as he did in a July posting he captioned, “Covid work!” seem tame by comparison.

This is how the latest Gaetz drama has played out so far:

News of the sex-trafficking investigation, launched in the final months of the last administration, broke Tuesday in The New York Times.

Rep. Matt Gaetz is engaged to Harvard business school student Ginger Luckey.
Rep. Matt Gaetz is engaged to Harvard business school student Ginger Luckey.
Twitter

The Pensacola bachelor, 38 — whose engagement to Harvard business school student Ginger Luckey, 26, was announced on Twitter by Fox’s Jeanine Pirro in December — immediately denied he had sex with a minor or transported one across state lines.

“In the strongest possible terms. I deny that I have ever been with someone underage,” he told The Post on Tuesday.

“That is false,” he insisted.

But Gaetz had only raised more eyebrows when he conceded to the Times that some of his past “generosity” toward former gal pals may be coming back to haunt him.

“I only know that it has to do with women,” he told the paper, when asked what he knew about the ­investigation.

“I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”

Soon, a new squall of headlines — these involving underage sex trafficking victims, an orgy, and a $25 million extortion plot — showed just how much more untoward things could get.

Rep. Mat Gaetz told the Post he denies “that I have ever been with someone underage.”
Gaetz told The Post he denies “that I have ever been with someone underage.”
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Just hours after the Times story broke, Gaetz did an interview on Fox News with Tucker Carlson.

He was there on camera, ostensibly, to clear things up.

Instead, Gaetz wove a twisty tale that cast himself and his father, Don, a wealthy former Florida politician, as the heroic victims of a massive blackmail plot.

“What is happening,” he told Carlson of the DOJ leak to the Times, “is an extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official.”

That ex-official, the villain of his purported extortion plot, is attorney David McGee, a former Florida federal prosecutor, Gaetz alleged.

“On March 16, my father got a text message demanding a meeting,” Gaetz said. “Wherein a person demanded $25 million in exchange for making horrible sex-trafficking allegations against me go away,” he told Carlson.

Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks during a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida on Feb. 27, 2021.
Gaetz speaks during a panel at CPAC in Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 27, 2021.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

He and his father reached out to the feds, “and the FBI and the Department of Justice were so concerned about this attempted extortion of a member of Congress that they asked my dad to wear a wire,” Gaetz told Carlson.

The feds must release the resulting audio tape, he told Carlson, claiming it will prove his innocence and reveal “a plot to bleed my family out of money.”

McGee leaked the DOJ sex-traffic investigation to the Times when the extortion plot fell through, Gaetz concluded in the shocking interview.

Then there’s the Iranian hostage angle.

Rep. Mat Gaetz claims the alleged sex trafficking investigation “is an extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official.”
Gaetz claims the alleged sex-trafficking investigation “is an extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official.”
Getty Images

McGee and ex-Air Force intelligence officer Bob Kent didn’t want the money for themselves, necessarily, Gaetz is alleging.

They wanted to use the money to free Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent taken hostage by Iran in 2007, and declared dead by his family last year.

Oh, and about those sex-trafficking allegations?

“Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime,” Gaetz told Carlson, a denial that may have done less in the way of clearing his name than he intended.

Rep. Matt Gaetz holds a phone to the microphone during a rally against Rep. Liz Cheney in Cheyenne, Wyoming on January 28, 2021.
Gaetz holds a phone to the microphone during a rally against Rep. Liz Cheney in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on Jan. 28, 2021.
Getty Images

McGee, meanwhile, has denied Gaetz’s hostage-extortion plot allegations, calling them “a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that he’s under investigation for sex trafficking of minors,” as he told The Washington Post.

And McGee is fighting Gaetz with banner-headline dirt of his own.

Which brings us, finally, to the alleged orgy.

Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent taken hostage by Iran in 2007, and declared dead by his family last year.
Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent taken hostage by Iran in 2007 who was declared dead by his family last year.
AFP via Getty Images

Gaetz has shown the Washington Examiner a string of text messages and other documents he says show the details of McGee and Kent’s supposed extortion attempt — including the pair’s reference to the FBI having photos of the congressman in a “sexual orgy with underage ­prostitutes.”

The document has not been verified, and its redundant reference to a “sexual orgy” is not elaborated on.

On Friday, text messages emerged purporting to link Gaetz to Joel Greenberg, a political ally and Seminole County tax official who’s being prosecuted for underage sex trafficking.

It was Greenberg’s prosecution — for allegedly making a fake ID for a minor girl “to facilitate his efforts to engage in commercial sex acts” — that had first put Gaetz on the feds’ radar.

Texts obtained by the Daily Beast appear to show Greenberg asking one of his workers to make a drivers license for Gaetz, who had lost his and needed a quick replacement to board a flight.

The congressman repeatedly boasted to unnamed Florida pols about women he met through Greenberg — even flashing around videos at parties of them in various stages of undress, The Washington Post meanwhile reported Friday night.

And to cap the week off, his communications director, Florida native Luke Ball, scrubbed mentions of Gaetz from his Twitter biography and tendered his resignation.

“The Office of Congressman Matt Gaetz and Luke Ball have agreed that it would be best to part ways,” a joint statement read. “We thank him for his time in our office, and we wish him the best moving forward.”

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Brussels Police Disperse April Fool’s Music Festival Crowd

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The police used water cannons and pepper spray to disperse a crowd of hundreds that had gathered in a park for a hoax April Fool’s Day music festival on Thursday, defying Covid-19 restrictions.

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Amber is a sports enthusiast who loves indulging in occasional football matches. She is a passionate journalist who flaunts a perfect hold over the English language. She currently caters his skills for the sports section of PoliticSay.

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Alabama to Open Vaccination to People 16 and Older

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“I ask, I plead with you, don’t give up the progress we have all fought so hard to achieve,” Mr. Biden said at the White House.

Alabama’s current set of restrictions, including a requirement to wear masks in public, expires on April 9, adding tension to a continuing battle between governors anxious to get their states open again, and the C.D.C. and Biden administration who continue to ask for patience. Several states have already dropped mask mandates.

“Please, this is not politics — reinstate the mandate,” Mr. Biden said Monday about the easing of restrictions nationwide, adding, “The failure to take this virus seriously is precisely what got us into this mess in the first place.”

Almost three million people are being vaccinated across the country per day, according to the seven-day average released by the C.D.C. on Friday. But only about 25 percent of Alabama’s total population has received one shot of a vaccine, below the national average of 31 percent, according to the agency.

Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi are tied as the states with the smallest percentage of people who have received at least one shot.

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As U.S. Shots Near 3 Million Daily, Experts Warn of Complacency

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As President Biden enters the homestretch of his first 100 days in office, the general declines in new virus cases, deaths and hospitalizations since January offer signs of hope for a weary nation.

But the average number of new cases has risen 19 percent over the past two weeks, and federal health officials say that complacency about the coronavirus could bring on another severe wave of infections.

“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an emotional plea to Americans this week. “But right now I’m scared.”

On the positive side, nearly a third of the people in the United States have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. As of early Saturday morning, nearly three million people on average were receiving a shot every day, up from about two million in early March.

The rising vaccination rate has prompted some state officials to accelerate their rollout schedules. This week, Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut expanded access to people 16 and older, several days ahead of schedule. And Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado opened universal eligibility about two weeks earlier than planned.

“No more having to sort out if you’re in or if you’re out,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, the deputy secretary of the Department of Health Services in Wisconsin, where anyone 16 or older will be eligible for a vaccine as of Monday. “It’s time to just move forward and get everybody with a shot in their arm.”

In another promising development, federal health officials said on Friday that Americans who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can travel “at low risk to themselves” within the United States and abroad.

But these days, most signs of hope are offset by peril.

Over the past week, there has been an average of 64,730 cases per day, an increase of 19 percent from two weeks earlier, according to a New York Times database. New deaths on average have declined, but they are still hovering around 900 a day. More than 960 were reported on Friday alone.

The C.D.C. predicted this week that the number of new Covid-19 cases per week in the United States would “remain stable or have an uncertain trend” over the next four weeks, and that weekly case numbers could be as high as about 700,000 even in late April.

Cases are already increasing significantly in many states, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast, as variants spread and some governors relax mask mandates and other restrictions. Dr. Walensky said this week that if states and cities continued to loosen public health restrictions, the nation could face a potential fourth wave.

Michigan, one of the worst-hit states, is reporting nearly 6,000 cases a day — up from about 1,000 a day in late February — even though half of its residents over 65 are now fully vaccinated.

And in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine said that new variants were aggravating the state’s caseload, even as vaccinations picked up.

“We have to understand that we are in a battle,” he said.

As if to underscore how fragile the nation’s recovery is, a quintessential American ritual — the start of the baseball season — has already faced a virus-related delay.

Major League Baseball officials said on Friday that the league had found only five positive cases in more than 14,000 tests of league personnel. But because four of those people were Washington Nationals players, the team’s Opening Day game against the New York Mets was postponed, and then the team’s full three-game weekend series.

“It’s one of those things that brings it to light that we’re not through it yet,” Brian Snitker, the Atlanta Braves manager, told The Associated Press. “We’re still fighting this.”

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The post As U.S. Shots Near 3 Million Daily, Experts Warn of Complacency appeared first on Latest News & Headlines.

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