House Ethics Committee continues investigating Matt Gaetz but closes some portions of its probe

The House Ethics Committee announced Tuesday that it will continue to investigate certain allegations surrounding Rep. Matt Gaetz, including whether the Florida Republican engaged in sexual misconduct, while ending other portions of the probe.

In a rare statement updating its work, the bipartisan committee stated some of the allegations against Gaetz “merit continued review” and it has “also identified additional allegations” that warrant investigating.

The panel will continue to investigate allegations that Gaetz may have “engaged in sexual misconduct and illicit drug use, accepted improper gifts, dispensed special privileges and favors to individuals with whom he had a personal relationship, and sought to obstruct government investigations of his conduct.”

The panel will no longer investigate the allegations that he “may have shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe or improper gratuity.”

The largely secretive panel gave more insight into why it put out a lengthy statement in the middle of its investigation.

“There has been a significant and unusual amount of public reporting on the Committee’s activities this Congress. Much of that reporting has been inaccurate. The Committee’s investigations are conducted confidentially, but the Committee’s confidentiality rules do not prohibit witnesses from disclosing information about the Committee’s requests or conversations with Committee investigators,” the statement read.

The committee also disclosed it has spoken with “more than a dozen witnesses, issued 25 subpoenas, and reviewed thousands of pages of documents in this matter.”

CNN has previously reported that the panel has reached out to the woman whom the congressman allegedly had sexual relations with when she was a 17-year-old minor, according to a source familiar with the committee’s work. The panel is also trying to get information from the Department of Justice about its now-closed probe that did not result in charges against Gaetz, as CNN has reported.

Gaetz has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, including ever having sex with a minor or paying for sex.

Ahead of the announcement from the Ethics Committee, Gaetz called the new investigations “frivolous” and claimed, “They are doing this to avoid the obvious fact that every investigation into me ends the same way: my exoneration.”

Gaetz, who led the charge to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, has privately blamed the California Republican for the committee restarting its probe under his tenure.

“This is Soviet. Kevin McCarthy showed them the man, and they are now trying to find the crime. I work for Northwest Floridians who won’t be swayed by this nonsense and McCarthy and his goons know it,” Gaetz added on Monday.

But McCarthy has repeatedly denounced those accusations and has said Gaetz worked to oust him because of the ethics probe.

In late 2020, under Trump-appointed Attorney General Bill Barr, the Justice Department opened an investigation into allegations Gaetz may have had sexual contact with a minor.

The probe expanded over the years before the Justice Department officially decided last year not to charge the congressman.

As part of the sprawling investigation, Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector and close confidant of Gaetz, pleaded guilty in 2021 to six federal charges, including soliciting and paying the minor in the Gaetz allegation for sex.

The Ethics Committee, controlled at the time by Democrats, originally opened its Gaetz investigation in 2021, publicly announcing that it was examining a range of allegations including that Gaetz violated sex trafficking laws, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, used illicit drugs, converted campaign funds to personal use and accepted a bribe, among other claims.

The committee deferred its investigation at the request of the Justice Department, which was simultaneously probing the allegations, but resumed its work after the DOJ concluded its investigation without bringing charges.

A source familiar with the House panel’s work previously told CNN that the Justice Department’s decision not to bring charges against Gaetz does not impact what the committee will and won’t investigate.

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