'Crickets' and 'Radio Silence'
Washington Post Fact Checker analysis gives Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) a "Four Pinocchios" rating for his false claim on national television that his travel records prove he did not travel with a 17-year old girl, a potential felony he admits the DOJ is investigating. Four Pinocchios is reserved for the most extreme lies, which the Post calls "Whoppers."
"We searched through all the available records and found nothing to support Gaetz's claim," the Post writes. "We repeatedly asked his staff to show us the records and heard crickets. We asked Gaetz directly — nothing, radio silence."
After a Tuesday evening New York Times bombshell Gaetz, an extremist Florida Republican closely tied to former President Donald Trump and who supports the "QAnon Caucus," went on Fox News to try to clear his name. The Times' accusations are Gaetz is under DOJ investigation for underage sex trafficking and having a sexual relationship with a minor, a 17-year old girl.
“It is a horrible allegation, and it is a lie," Gaetz told Fox News' Tucker Carlson. "The New York Times is running a story that I have traveled with a 17-year-old woman, and that is verifiably false. People can look at my travel records and see that that is not the case."
"I have not had a relationship with a 17-year-old. That is totally false," he added. "And records will bear that out to be false."
The Washington Post went to great lengths to verify Gaetz's claim, that the allegations are "verifiably false," and his "travel records...will bear that out to be false."
"We found that Gaetz's line about 'travel records' is a complete smokescreen. They disprove nothing," the Post's Fact Checker reports. "Gaetz is putting up a smokescreen, falsely reassuring viewers with nonexistent evidence."
Only some of any member of Congress' records are public, yet Gaetz and his office are refusing to respond to the Post's repeated inquires for records to substantiate his claims.
"We repeatedly asked Gaetz's chief of staff Jillian Lane Wyant and his spokesman Luke Ball to show us the travel records supposedly debunking the allegations and received no response. We also sent a text message directly to Gaetz with our query and got no reply."
"Gaetz says the records would clear his name. But when we asked to see them, neither he nor his staff acknowledged our questions. That's very fishy," the Post concluded, before assigning the "Four Pinocchios" rating.