Gaetz defends himself: I'm 'not a monk'

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzLawmakers introduce bipartisan Free Britney Act Performance or performance art? A question for voters in 2022 (and 2024) Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections MORE (R-Fla.) defended himself in a fiery opinion piece Monday amid allegations of sexual misconduct and a Justice Department investigation into sex trafficking claims against him. 

"Washington scandal cycles are predictable, and sex is especially potent in politics," Gaetz wrote in an editorial published Monday in the Washington Examiner. "Let me first remind everyone that I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal." 

The congressman from the Florida Panhandle said late last week that he does not intend to resign despite a federal investigation into whether he paid women — and a 17-year-old girl — for sexual favors. Gaetz has denied he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old.

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The controversy has raised questions about whether Gaetz will leave Congress, with GOP colleagues saying his days as a lawmaker could be numbered.

Gaetz also reportedly showed fellow members pictures of naked women on his phone while on the House floor and bragged about his sexual escapades. 

The Republican this week said the allegations against him are a continuation of a so-called deep state looking to silence critics of Democrats and the mainstream media. 

Gaetz was one of former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Arkansas governor says it's 'disappointing' vaccinations have become 'political' Watch live: Trump attends rally in Phoenix MORE's staunchest supporters on Capitol Hill during his four years in office. 

"Just as they once falsely attacked President Donald Trump as a Russian asset, Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughKavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law On The Money: Yellen to Congress: Raise the debt ceiling or risk 'irreparable harm' | Frustration builds as infrastructure talks drag Christine Blasey Ford's lawyers blast FBI's Kavanaugh investigation as 'sham' MORE as a gang rapist, and even John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' Democrats seek to counter GOP attacks on gas prices Biden nominates Jeff Flake as ambassador to Turkey MORE as having fathered a child out of wedlock, they now attack me," he said. "Of course, none of what they say ever amounts to anything, yet it is endlessly repeated by leftist television anchors such as Chris CuomoChris CuomoBudowsky: How Biden can defeat COVID-19 for good Matt Schlapp spars with Chris Cuomo: 'I'm not welcome at CNN' US just finished dead last among 46 countries in media trust — here's why MORE, who uses his platform to cover for his brother's appalling subjection of nursing home patients to death by the coronavirus. They think themselves such wonderful arbiters of moral purpose." 

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Chris Cuomo is a CNN anchor and the brother of New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNYC George Floyd statue to be relocated after vandalism As Biden's America becomes less safe, the violence and crime could cost Democrats New York gun rights case before Supreme Court with massive consequences  MORE (D).

Gaetz called the claims against him "bizarre" and last week suggested he was being extorted by a top DOJ official, who has denied any such scheme. 

"Yes, just like the mafia, the D.C. swamp protects its 'made men.' Since I’m taking my turn under the gun, let me address the allegations against me directly. First, I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old," Gaetz wrote. "This is how D.C. works. The guilty and wrong point fingers at the innocent and right. Remember President Joe Biden’s Ukraine scandal? Or the Lincoln Project’s professions of moral superiority? Their scorn and moral posturing is all merely projection." 

The congressman admitted to making mistakes in his personal life before coming to Congress, and said those experiences have made him "a better man today than I was years ago. Heck, I hope to be a better man than I was yesterday, every day of my life." 

"My lifestyle of yesteryear may be different from how I live now, but it was not and is not illegal," he said. "It comes as no surprise that my political opponents want to sensationalize and criminalize my prior sex life just as I am getting engaged to the best person I’ve ever known. It is regrettable that the battle of ideas should thus become so personal. But then again, when your ideas suck, you need to stoop this low."