In what Tucker Carlson himself referred to as “one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted,” Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz responded on Tucker Carlson Tonight to a bombshell report from The New York Times that published hours earlier, alleging that the 38-year-old Gaetz is the subject of a federal sex trafficking investigation involving a then-17-year-old girl. Three sources tell the Times that the Congressman had a relationship with the young woman and paid for her travel at least once.
Earlier in the day, Axios reported that Gaetz was considering an early retirement from congress in order to join conservative cable news network Newsmax.
When Gaetz appeared on Tuesday night’s program, he claimed to Carlson that he is the victim of “extortion” involving a DOJ official who’s seeking $25 million. He also told Carlson that his father “is wearing a wire,” and most bizarre of all, he proceeded to bring up Carlson in the matter.
“I’m not the only person on screen right now who has been falsely accused of a terrible sex act,” Gaetz stated. “You were accused of something you did not do so you know what this feels like. You know the pain it can bring to your family and you know how it puts people on defense when you are accused of something so salacious and awful.”
Carlson, as one might expect, didn’t exactly appreciate having his name used in this context.
“You just referred to a mentally ill viewer who accused me of a sex crime 20 years ago and, of course, it was not true,” said Carlson. “I never met the person. But I do agree with you that being accused falsely is one of the worst things that can happen and you do see it a lot.”
Later in the interview, the Florida congressman again tried to draw Carlson into the story.
“I can say that actually you and I went to dinner about two years ago, your wife was there and I brought a friend of mine, you’ll remember her,” Gaetz said. “And she was actually threatened by the FBI, told that if she wouldn’t cop to the fact that somehow I was involved in some pay for play scheme that she could face trouble, and so I do believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to smear me. You know, providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you are dating who are of legal age is not a crime and I’m just troubled that lack of any sort of legitimate investigation into me would then permute, would then convert into this extortion attempt.”
Carlson quickly denied any recollection of the dinner with Gaetz: “I don’t remember the woman you are speaking of or the context at all, honestly.”
He ended the interview with Gaetz shortly thereafter and tossed to commercial.
Upon his return, Carlson said “that was one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted,” adding that he didn’t think it “clarified much.”