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House Ethics Committee opens investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz

The GOP congressman has denied any wrongdoing.

The House Ethics Committee has started a bipartisan investigation into the wide-ranging allegations against Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., as he grapples with a Justice Department investigation into alleged sexual trafficking, '' the committee said in a statement Friday.

The inquiry, according to a statement by the panel's Democratic and Republican leaders, will review allegations of sexual misconduct, illegal drug use, abuse of state identification records and effort funds, and whether the congressman accepted a bribe or gift in violation of House rules.

Gaetz are also investigated over allegations that he shared photographs and videos of naked women with other members of Congress on the House floor, also asserts first reported by CNN and confirmed by ABC News.

Gaetz, who has not yet been charged in connection with the probe, has denied any wrongdoing.

"Once more, the workplace will reiterate, these allegations are intentionally false and have not been validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them," his office said in a statement Friday.

Gaetz was defiant in a speaking appearance at the"Save America Summit" fundraiser at Trump Doral on Friday night.

"The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life to crazy -- and I am wild -- conspiracy theories," he told the audience. "I won't be intimidated with a lying media, and I will not be extorted by a former DOJ official and the crooks he is working with. The facts will prevail."

The House Ethics Committee can recommend action to the entire House, such as a reprimand, censure or expulsion. The first two require a simple majority, however, expulsion needs a two-thirds vote of the chamber.

It can also make criminal referrals to the Justice Department, which may still ask the panel to reevaluate its investigation because of its ongoing criminal inquiry based in Florida.

The committee does not have authority over former members of Congress, so the analysis would be closed if Gaetz were to resign. Gaetz on Monday said he will not depart Congress.

Gaetz on Friday announced the hiring of defense lawyers Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, 1 day after federal prosecutors signaled his associate Joel Greenberg is contemplating carrying a plea bargain as he faces sex trafficking charges.

Mukasey, the son of former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, has functioned as a lawyer for former President Donald Trump, and now serves as the lead attorney for the Trump Organization since it faces investigations from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the New York State Attorney General.

"We've publicly addressed this situation and consistent with this are cooperating with the House Ethics Committee to bring this matter to conclusion," Reed said in a statement Friday.

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