“I told him I’m not trying to extort, but if this were true, he might be interested in doing something good,” Mr. Kent said.
For now, Gaetz doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
Mr. Gaetz told The Times in an interview this week that he had no plans to resign from Congress. But as the investigation continues, he could face pressure either to step down or temporarily relinquish his spot on the House committee that oversees the Justice Department.
“He should not be sitting on a Congressional Committee with oversight over the DOJ while the Department is investigating him,” Representative Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, wrote on Twitter.
Few Republicans have stood up for Mr. Gaetz, whose brash style long ago alienated many of his colleagues, but they do not appear to be trying to push him to the exits either, at least before federal investigators complete their work.
“Those are serious implications. If it comes out to be true, yes, we would remove him,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Republican leader, told Fox News this week. “But right now, Matt Gaetz says that it’s not true, and we don’t have any information. So let’s get all the information.”
Still, Mr. Gaetz himself may have other plans. Before the disclosure of the inquiry this week, the congressman had been openly discussing leaving the House to take a full-time job as a commentator at a conservative TV network, like Newsmax, according to people familiar with the conversations. Mr. Gaetz has been a fixture of conservative media, but his legal woes could complicate any plans he may have had before they became public.
In the meantime, nothing prevents Mr. Gaetz from continuing to do his regular congressional work, attending hearings, voting on legislation and receiving classified information every member of Congress is entitled to.