'Absolutely not resigning': Gaetz blasts Justice Dept. probe — and critics

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A defiant U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz said in an op-ed article published Monday that he's "not a criminal" and is "absolutely not resigning" despite an investigation into sex trafficking allegations against him.

"Since I’m taking my turn under the gun, let me address the allegations against me directly. First, I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old," the Florida Republican wrote in the Washington Examiner, where he described himself as the victim of a diverse group of enemies.

"Folks won’t be surprised that bizarre claims are being made about me shortly after I decided to take on the most powerful institutions in the Beltway: the establishment; the FBI; the Biden Justice Department; the Cheney political dynasty; even the Justice Department under Trump," he wrote.

The inquiry into Gaetz, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, was opened under then-Attorney General William Barr during the Trump administration, two sources told the New York Times.

The congressman also denied the allegation when the story was first reported last week. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Probe into whether he trafficked a 17-year-old girl

Law enforcement officials confirmed to NBC News that the Justice Department probe started as a result of an investigation into a former Seminole County tax collector and friend of Gaetz named Joel Greenberg, who's since been charged with sex trafficking. Greenberg has pleaded not guilty.

Investigators are looking into whether Gaetz trafficked a 17-year-old girl, the officials said. The Times, citing people close to the investigation and text messages and payment receipts, reported that investigators also looking into allegations Gaetz and Greenberg recruited women online to have sex in return for cash and gifts.

In the op-ed article, Gaetz portrayed that as an "allegation that I, a grown man, paid for an adult girlfriend’s expenses."

"I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal," he wrote.

"My lifestyle of yesteryear may be different from how I live now, but it was not and is not illegal," the 38-year-old added. "My personal life is and always has been conducted on my own time and my own dime."

Though the probe originated under Barr, Gaetz singled out President Joe Biden's attorney general in his article.