Following reports he is under investigation by the Department of Justice for sex trafficking, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida claimed he would be exonerated by travel records which show he did not cross state lines to have sexual relations with a minor.
After a thorough fact check, however, the team at The Washington Post rated Gaetz's claim "Four Pinocchios."
Fact Checker: Matt Gaetz’s claim that "travel records" debunk the allegations against him https://t.co/POYyBCnaib— The Washington Post (@The Washington Post) 1617275120.0
Made famous by Gaetz's personal hero, President Donald Trump, Four Pinocchios indicates a "whopper" or outright lie.
Wooden Pinocchio Gaetz #GaetzGate Not quite a real boy but just as much a liar. #GaetzOfHell… https://t.co/5EZvyd85uS— cнrιѕтopнer мacĸnιѕ (@cнrιѕтopнer мacĸnιѕ) 1617278340.0
@washingtonpost Gaetz's carefully worded statements don't rule out that he had an underage girl travel separately to meet him somewhere.— Dale Geldart (@Dale Geldart) 1617275458.0
Though The Post was careful to indicate the allegations against him may still be untrue, his claim he would be exonerated by travel records was blatantly untrue.
According to The Post:
"As a House member, Gaetz is not required to file disclosures concerning his private life and expenses."
"The disclosure forms he has filed do not disprove that he is under investigation for traveling with a 17-year-old girl or arranging her travel."
"We searched through all the available records and found nothing to support Gaetz's claim."
"We repeatedly asked his staff to show us the records and heard crickets."
"We asked Gaetz directly—nothing, radio silence."
How will we name the Matt Gaetz scandal? Gaetzgate? Kiddygaetz? Who's got the right name for this?— Victor (@Victor) 1617285941.0
@washingtonpost He is running scared, he knows the DOJ is close to finding evidence against him. Typical Republican… https://t.co/y6XNGmSJ1K— Ken Niles (@Ken Niles) 1617278009.0
Some online pundits pointed out Gaetz may be trapped between a rock and a hard place—if he traveled for personal purposes using taxpayer money, there may be a paper trail to exonerate him from his sex trafficking charge.
However, personal travel using public funds is a crime in and of itself.
@RawStory Matt Pizzagaetz should be removed from the Judiciary Committee ASAP— Bob Jenkinson (@Bob Jenkinson) 1617288244.0
@washingtonpost “Here’s the bottom line: House members’ personal travel and expenses are not subject to disclosure,… https://t.co/gVJ7gEhCJf— Winston Smith 🇺🇸❤️💙🇺🇸 (@Winston Smith 🇺🇸❤️💙🇺🇸) 1617276624.0
@washingtonpost I wonder how his talk with Nestor about this went— Clin (@Clin) 1617275352.0
Since reports of the investigation into Gaetz broke online, the Congressman has made many attempts to distract the public from the allegations of sexual relations with a minor.
@washingtonpost Gaetz is purposefully trying to conflate two separate things. 1. He is under investigation for sex… https://t.co/nGPx8KcyVG— Joe King (@Joe King) 1617276916.0
@RawStory Matt is working hard to hide something. Remember his threats to Michael Cohen @MichaelCohen212 before he… https://t.co/0dJUsbkLxY— MadMerlin✨ (@MadMerlin✨) 1617287380.0
FOUR freaking Pinocchios, @mattgaetz. https://t.co/XHU7NUSkPb— Casper Dean (@Casper Dean) 1617276461.0
Though Gaetz may or may not be innocent of the subject of his investigations, his claim travel records would exonerate him seems to have been a lie meant to divert the press and reassure his supporters.
Pretty sure loads of skeletons are about to be freed from this whackadoos closet! #MattGaetzRESIGN… https://t.co/Q2IICUuG45— Debbie Dickerson (@Debbie Dickerson) 1617276005.0
@washingtonpost Fact-checking FTW again.— Blueberry Smasher (@Blueberry Smasher) 1617276423.0
@washingtonpost Gaetz can talk as much nonsense as he wants, it's the DOJ that will have the final word.— Pravoye Krylo Predateli (@Pravoye Krylo Predateli) 1617278569.0
Fact-checkers have become invaluable in the age of internet disinformation.
@washingtonpost Admit nothing, deny everything - counter accuse. Roy Cohn 101. Lead, follow or get out of the w… https://t.co/nuJenGUy9R— Bernard Mooney (@Bernard Mooney) 1617292220.0
@washingtonpost His private records show nothing, but if he traveled on the taxpayer's dime for personal purposes, it will.— @PennyCr71734643 (@@PennyCr71734643) 1617281701.0
The Post ended its fact check by writing:
"As regular readers know, the burden of proof is on the speaker."
"Gaetz is putting up a smokescreen, falsely reassuring viewers with nonexistent evidence. He earns Four Pinocchios."
"Show us the travel records, and the rating may change."