Nathan Nelson, a former employee of U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, speaks to the news media on April 5, 2021 in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.
Colin Hackley | Reuters
A former Rep. Matt Gaetz employee said Monday that FBI agents contacted him last week shortly after it became known that the Florida Republican was implicated in a federal investigation into the sex trafficking.
Nathan Nelson, Gaetz’s former director of military affairs, said two agents questioned him at his home after hearing from media officials that Nelson knew of Gaetz’s alleged involvement in illegal activities. The media tipsters told the FBI that Nelson resigned based on this knowledge, the ex-aide said.
“I’m here this morning to declare that nothing could be further from the truth,” Nelson said at a press conference in northwest Florida. “Neither I nor any other employee of Congressman Gaetz had knowledge of illegal activities.”
Nelson His departure from Gaetz ‘office last fall had nothing to do with investigating the Justice Department’s allegations against the 38-year-old congressman. The investigation into whether Gaetz trafficked an underage girl began in the final months of former President Donald Trump’s tenure, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
In response to CNBC’s report on Nelson’s remarks, Gaetz slammed the FBI, claiming the agency had “literally false media rumors”.
“Sounds familiar?” Gaetz added. He and other Republicans have accused government agencies and officials of conservative bias in recent years. In 2019, Gaetz accused special adviser Robert Mueller, who led the investigation into Russian interference and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign in the 2016 elections, of trying to “stop Trump”. That investigation, which did not find enough evidence to suggest a collusion between Trump and Russia, has since become a powerful symbol for Republicans who feel they are being targeted by government institutions.
The FBI did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
In the meantime, Gaetz stated in a new comment that he was “absolutely not resigning” and “not being intimidated or blackmailed” by his political opponents.
Gaetz, an outspoken Trump loyalist, has previously denied having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paying for her trips with him, and he remained defiant on Monday morning.
“Since it is my turn under the gun, I would like to address the allegations against me directly. First, I never paid for sex. And second, as a grown man, I did not sleep at the age of 17 -old,” wrote Gaetz in the Washington Examiner.
Last week, Gaetz said in a statement that he and his family are threatened in a multi-million dollar extortion program involving a former Justice Department official. Police officers told NBC News that the DOJ is pursuing a separate investigation into Gaetz’s allegations of blackmail.
The sex trafficking investigation with Gaetz emerged from another case involving his former associate, Joel Greenberg, a local Florida official who was charged on numerous charges last summer, including sex trafficking with a child.
Nelson said at the press conference that he was approached by federal agents the day after the Times first reported on alleged sex trafficking.
The former Gaetz aide said he knew nothing specific about the investigation and had never heard of Greenberg before last week’s reports. But the “unsubstantiated allegation” that led the FBI to approach him “continues to convince me” that the allegations against Gaetz “are also fabricated,” Nelson said.
Another Gaetz employee, communications director Luke Ball, resigned last week.
Nelson worked in Gaetz’s office for more than four years before leaving last October, according to his LinkedIn profile. He said Monday that his departure was planned.
Nelson told reporters he was still “loosely linked to Gaetz’s office as a military advisor” in an unpaid capacity, “but said he had not spoken to Gaetz in” several months “.
Gaetz’s office had arranged Nelson’s press conference.