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Kinzinger is first GOP lawmaker to call on Gaetz to resign

GOP Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerIncreasingly active younger voters liberalize US electorate Sunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Kinzinger: GOP downplaying Capitol riot something 'out of North Korea' MORE (Ill.) on Thursday night called for Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGaetz associate to cooperate with investigation, plead guilty to child sex trafficking Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg expected to plead guilty next week Buckingham Palace requests 'Trump Train' remove image of queen from bus MORE (R-Fla.) to resign amid allegations that Gaetz had sex with a minor and violated sex trafficking laws. 

In a short tweet, the Illinois Republican wrote, "Matt Gaetz needs to resign."

The tweet included a link to an article from The Daily Beast reporting that Gaetz used Venmo to pay an accused sex trafficker $900 in May of 2018. The Beast reports that the man, Joel Greenberg, then sent the same amount of money to teenaged girls.

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Greenberg is reportedly set to make a plea deal and cooperate with prosecutors in the coming days.

Kinzinger, a vocal critic of former President TrumpDonald TrumpSunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Navajo Nation president on Arizona's new voting restrictions: An 'assault' on our rights The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez MORE and several of his allies, is the first Republican congressman to publicly call for Gaetz to resign. 

Gaetz has long been an ally and defender of the former president. 

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Both Kinzinger and Gaetz have shared a contentious and, at times, heated relationship over the past year. 

In early February, Kinzinger told The Washington Post that he had a "huge list" of GOP lawmakers he would like to see challenged for perpetuating unsupported theories surrounding the 2020 election. In particular, Kinzinger took aim at Gaetz and Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), another ardent Trump supporter, accusing them of prioritizing fame over legislating. 

“Oh, there's a huge list. … I mean, look, all you have to do is see people like, of course, Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneThe Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida QAnon site shutters after reports identifying developer MORE. You look at people like Matt Gaetz, who know better. I think neither of them believes the stuff they ascribe to, they just want fame,” he said at the time. 

In a tweet posted in a response to Kinzinger's criticism, Gaetz challenged him to "F---ing bring it." 

The news from Kinzinger comes after The New York Times first reported last week that the Department of Justice was investigating Gaetz over an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, and accusations that he paid for her travel. 

Gaetz told The Hill on Friday that he has no plans to resign, saying rumors that suggested otherwise were "false" and that it was "very safe" to say he had no intentions of doing so.

Several of Gaetz's critics on the left, including former Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillMaher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' Former Obama official named NFL senior VP of communications Republicans fret over divisive candidates MORE (D-Calif.), have called on him to resign. 

Hill told MSNBC's Chris Hayes earlier on Thursday that she felt "betrayed" by Gaetz after the two had struck up a friendship during her time in Congress. 

Two of Gaetz's staffers have resigned so far in light of the allegations. The Times reported Thursday that Gaetz's legislative director Devin Murphy had resigned last week shortly after his communications chief Luke Ball also resigned.