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

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzAlleged sex trafficking victim may be cooperating with feds in Matt Gaetz investigation, ex-girlfriend says Kinzinger: Republicans who join 'America First' caucus should be stripped of committees McCarthy: GOP not the party of 'nativist dog whistles' 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 TrumpDC goes to the dogs — Major and Champ, that is Biden on refugee cap: 'We couldn't do two things at once' Taylor Greene defends 'America First' effort, pushes back on critics 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 KavanaughBiden's court-packing theater could tame the Supreme Court's conservatives Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting NY Times beclowns itself by normalizing court-packing 'to balance the conservative majority' MORE as a gang rapist, and even John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCongress brings back corrupt, costly, and inequitably earmarks Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Biden, lawmakers start down a road with infrastructure 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 CuomoTrump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting Colbert mocks Gaetz after Trump denies he asked for a pardon Universally panned '60 Minutes' hit piece on DeSantis just made him a 2024 frontrunner 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 CuomoSectoral bargaining is bad for workers and the American economy New York Philharmonic gives first public performance in more than a year Ron Kim on nursing home immunity repeal: It was critical 'to hold these facilities accountable' 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."