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Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida has claimed that the accusations surrounding his Justice Department sex-trafficking investigation were false smears used in an extortion attempt.
Now, one of the men that Gaetz accused of extortion, the former Air Force intelligence officer Bob Kent, is denying the claim, saying he was simply trying to ask Gaetz’s father for money to help free an American in Iran.
In interviews with CNN’s Chris Cuomo and SiriusXM personality Michael Smerconish on Monday, Kent said he was not responsible for Gaetz coming under scrutiny in the first place, and said he had nothing to do with the sex-trafficking investigation.
The DOJ is investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travel, and whether he violated sex-trafficking laws in doing so. The New York Times first reported on that investigation last week.
Kent told CNN that before the Times report, he had “heard rumors” that Gaetz might be facing political and legal issues and that he made reference to them in a message to Gaetz’s father, the wealthy businessman Don Gaetz, to ask for a $25 million loan to help the former FBI agent Robert Levinson escape captivity in Iran.
Kent did not say on Monday where he got those rumors from, and told CNN he “didn’t have any specifics” about Matt Gaetz’s issues.
However, a letter from Kent to Don Gaetz published by the Washington Examiner included two long paragraphs of details into Gaetz’s sex-trafficking allegations.
“We weren’t out to get Matt Gaetz, we were out to get Robert Levinson,” Kent told CNN.
Insider has contacted Gaetz’s office for comment for this story.
Levinson disappeared in Iran in 2007, and last year, then-President Donald Trump’s administration told Levinson’s family that he was presumed dead. But Kent, who says he now works as a consultant with a network in Iraq, said he obtained two proof-of-life videos of Levinson and believed him to still be alive.
The $25 million would be used to help pay a ransom to have Levinson returned, Kent said.
If Don Gaetz funded the effort and Levinson was released, Kent said he would give Matt Gaetz credit for the mission’s success. Kent said he explained to Don Gaetz that this could help his son win political points and perhaps get a presidential pardon, though he didn’t have the power to ensure that.
Exclusive: Bob Kent, a key figure in the Rep. Matt Gaetz extortion claim, responds saying he never threatened or made demands when he met with the embattled congressman’s father. https://t.co/6mxO3RJeD4 pic.twitter.com/zCiwLKpNbp
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) April 6, 2021
Kent said he met with Don Gaetz about the plan on March 17, and that the elder Gaetz expressed that he felt this was extortion. Kent said he went on to explain to Don Gaetz that that was not the intention of their meeting.
“I explained that in no way am I trying to extort him and if he decides not …read more
Source:: Businessinsider – Politics
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