Matt Gaetz Says He Is 'Built for Battle' as House Members Speak Out Amid Sex Trafficking Allegations

Following the House Ethics Committee opening an investigation into him, Representative Matt Gaetz told a Women for America First rally that he was "built for the battle," as House members from both sides of the aisle chimed in about the Florida congressman.

Gaetz has been accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl, which the congressman has denied. The House committee has launched an investigation early on Friday, while the Department of Justice has opened a probe into Gaetz for possibly violating sex-trafficking laws—which he has also refuted those allegations.

Early in his speech Friday night at the rally held at the Trump National Doral Miami, Gaetz again said that the accusations against him were part of a smear campaign.

"I'm built for the battle, and I'm not going anywhere. The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life to wild—and I mean wild—conspiracy theories. I won't be intimidated by a lying media, and I won't be extorted by a former DOJ officials [sic] and the crooks he is working with. The truth will prevail," he said.

Towards the end of his speech, Gaetz again appeared to reference the allegations, criticizing lawmakers, tech companies and the media.

"They lie about me, because I tell the truth about them, and I'm not gonna stop. So when you see the leaks and the lies and the falsehoods and the smears, when you see the anonymous sources and insiders forecasting my demise, know this: they aren't really coming for me, they're coming for you. I'm just in the way," he said.

Big government, big tech, and big media would all breathe a sigh of relief if I were no longer in the Congress fighting for you.

Know this - they aren’t really coming for me, they’re coming for you.

I’m just in the way.

— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) April 10, 2021

Gaetz's speech at the rally comes on the heels of Republican Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger calling for him to resign in a Thursday tweet. The post shared a Daily Beast report that alleged the congressman had Venmo'd his associate Joel Greenberg, who then Venmo'd three teens.

Matt Gaetz needs to resign. via @thedailybeast

— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) April 9, 2021

Following initial reports that Gaetz was being investigated, Democratic California Representative Ted Lieu said in a recent interview with Fox 11 said of Gaetz: "He's entitled to the presumption of innocence...but he's not entitled to sit on the House Judiciary Committee."

.@tedlieu says @mattgaetz should resign from the Judiciary Cmte:

"He's entitled to the presumption of innocence...but he's not entitled to sit on the House Judiciary Committee."@RepTedLieu says Gaetz shouldn't oversee the Department which is currently investigating him.

— Elex Michaelson (@Elex_Michaelson) April 10, 2021

He tweeted also on March 31: "If it's true Rep Matt Gaetz engaged in sex trafficking, he needs to resign and be prosecuted."

Despite some calling for his resignation, others have come to Gaetz's defense. Former President Donald Trump appeared to back the congressman and denied allegations that Gaetz had sought a "pre-emptive pardon" in a statement on Wednesday.

Female staffers in Gaetz's office also released a statement, saying that he'd always acted as a "morally grounded leader." It read in part: "At no time has any one of us experienced or witnessed anything less than the utmost professionalism and respect. No hint of impropriety. No ounce of untruthfulness."

Newsweek reached out to Gaetz's office for comment.

Rep Matt Gaetz Rally Speech
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl) speaks during the "Save America Summit" at the Trump National Doral golf resort on April 09, 2021 in Doral, Florida. Mr. Gaetz addressed the summit hosted by Women for America First as the Justice Department is investigating the Congressman for allegations of sex with a minor and child sex trafficking. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts