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Lieu: Gaetz should be suspended from Judiciary panel amid DOJ probe

Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuDemocrats, activists blast Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Lawmakers praise Biden for expected recognition of Armenian Genocide Overnight Defense: Top Pentagon nominee advances after Harris casts tie-breaker | Air Force general charged with sexual assault first to face court-martial | House passes bill to limit Saudi arms sales MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday called for Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGOP braces for wild week with momentous vote Gaetz, Greene tout push to oust Cheney: 'Maybe we're the leaders' Rural community leaders call on Gaetz, Greene to 'stop dividing America' ahead of US tour MORE (R-Fla.) to be suspended from the House Judiciary Committee, on which they both serve, pending the outcome of a Department of Justice (DOJ) probe reportedly investigating whether the Florida lawmaker had sexual relations with a teenager.

“Rep Matt Gaetz should be taken off the @HouseJudiciary Committee until the @TheJusticeDept investigation is completed,” Lieu tweeted shortly after news broke of the investigation on Tuesday. 

“He should not be sitting on a Congressional Committee with oversight over the DOJ while the Department is investigating him,” Lieu added.

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According to The New York Times, the probe, which reportedly launched during the last months of the Trump administration, is also looking at whether the Republican congressman violated federal sex trafficking laws by allegedly paying for the teen to travel with him. The girl is reportedly 17 years old. 

The probe is reportedly part of a larger investigation into Joel Greenberg, a former local Florida tax collector and an ally of Gaetz who is facing charges of sex trafficking a child and payment to at least one female minor for sex. Greenberg has reportedly pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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While Gaetz has denied the allegations, he did confirm to Axios that he is under federal investigation and that the probe was connected to his sexual relationships with women.

He also claimed probe is “rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million ... in exchange for making this case go away” and provided the outlet with screenshots of correspondence he alleged was part of an extortion effort coordinated by a former Justice Department employee.

“The allegations against me are as searing as they are false,” he told the outlet. “I believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to criminalize my sexual conduct, you know when I was a single guy.”

“You know, I've paid for flights, for hotel rooms. I’ve been, you know, generous as a partner,” he continued. “I think someone is trying to make that look criminal when it is not." 

The Hill has reached out to the DOJ and Gaetz’s office for comment.