CBS News revealed Wednesday that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) took a trip to the Bahamas in late 2018 or early 2019 that triggered the sex trafficking investigation, sources revealed.
According to the report, "Gaetz was on that trip with a marijuana entrepreneur and hand surgeon named Jason Pirozzolo, who allegedly paid for the travel expenses, accommodations, and female escorts."
The Justice Department is investigating to determine if the escorts were illegally trafficked across state or international lines for sex with Gaetz or merely as escorts that do not provide anything other than companionship.
"Traveling across state lines is what creates a federal hook for a prosecution," said former prosecutor Arlo Devlin-Brown. "It doesn't matter that [Gaetz] personally paid them as long as he knows someone is doing that."
The other question for investigators is whether Gaetz accepted paid escorts in exchange for something.
Pirozzolo did an interview with Ganjapreneur.com in July 2018 where he said that Gaetz was going to announce federal legislation to allow federal research into the benefits of cannabis.
"In fact, Congressman Matt Gaetz is in the process of working on legislation up in Washington, D.C., that will help facilitate research on the nationwide level. And we should see a lot of good benefit from them," Pirozzolo said in the interview. "We've got Congressmen that are actually dealing with this federal legislation right now."
Gaetz denies all of this.
"Rep. Gaetz has never paid for sex, nor has he had sex with an underage girl," said the Congressman's spokesperson. "What began with blaring headlines about 'sex trafficking' has now turned into a general fishing exercise about vacations and consensual relationships with adults. Yesterday, we even learned of some nonsense 'pardon' story that turned out to be false, and today it's just more euphemism. It's interesting to watch the Washington wheels grinding so hard every time one of their falsehoods gets knocked down."
Gaetz reportedly requested a blanket pardon from former President Donald Trump's White House before leaving office.