Tucker Carlson: Matt Gaetz sexual allegation interview ‘one of weirdest’ he’s done
Tucker Carlson on Tuesday called his interview of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) one of the oddest in his career after inviting the congressman on his show to discuss an investigation he is facing for an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old.
“If you just saw our Matt Gaetz interview, that was one of the weirdest interviews I have ever conducted,” Carlson said to his viewers after the segment on his Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“That was one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted.”pic.twitter.com/lo2BqvxHJT
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) March 31, 2021
On Tuesday news broke that the Department of Justice was investigating whether Gaetz “had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him,” three sources briefed on the probe told The New York Times.
Gaetz, in an Axios story later that day, denied the allegations but confirmed that he was under investigation.
Gaetz said that the accusations were part of an “extortion effort against my family for $25 million … in exchange for making this case go away.”
He repeated those allegations on Carlson’s show.
“I know that there was a demand for money in exchange for a commitment that he could make this investigation go away along with his co-conspirators,” Gaetz told Carlson.
“They even claimed to have specific connections inside the Biden White House,” he added. “Now, I don’t know if that’s true. They were promising that Joe Biden would pardon me. Obviously, I don’t need a pardon. I’m not seeking a pardon. I have not done anything improper or wrong.”
Matt Gaetz vows to Tucker Carlson he didn’t “travel” with a 17-year-old, but his denial seems pretty specific and carefully worded pic.twitter.com/emGePJeVfV
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 31, 2021
Gaetz suggested the extortion plot could be tied to attempts to damage him politically, pointing to the fact that after news of the investigation broke, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) asked that Gaetz be suspended from the House Judiciary Committee.
“But what I am troubled by is the real motivation for all of this,” Gaetz said to Carlson. “You know, just tonight, Ted Lieu, a Democrat, was calling on me to be removed from the House Judiciary Committee. I believe we are in an era of our politics now, Tucker, where people are smeared to try to take them out of the conversation.”
Gaetz told Carlson there have been similar attempts to use law enforcement to intimidate him, something he said the host should be aware of since it came up while Carlson and Gaetz were at dinner together once.
“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 will 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.”
Carlson said he had no recollection of that event.
“I don’t remember the woman you are speaking of or the context at all, honestly,” Carlson said.
It was clear, after the segment ended, that Carlson was nonplussed by the interview he had just conducted.
“That story just appeared in the news a couple of hours ago, and on the certainty that there is always more than you read in the newspaper, we immediately called Matt Gaetz and asked him to come on and tell us more, which, as you saw, he did,” Carlson said about the interview. “I don’t think that clarified much, but it certainly showed this is a deeply interesting story, and we will be following it. Don’t quite understand it, but we will bring you more when we find out.”
Gaetz’s public statements about extortion on Carlson’s show and elsewhere may only make things worse for him, said one of the New York Times reporters who broke the story.
“You would think that he would be wanting to work with the FBI and you would think he would want to keep this quiet,” Katie Benner, who covers the Justice Department for the Times, said in an appearance on “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
“So you have to put this all into context and say that in doing this and basically blowing up an FBI investigation into people trying to extort his family, you know, he has both complicated that investigation and also cast aspersions on something that was serious enough that Attorney General [William] Barr approved it,” Benner added.
Updated at 8:44 a.m.