Before Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was at the center of a sex trafficking investigation, he sparked a spat within the Justice Department, Politico reports. In late 2018, Larry Keefe, the former Trump-appointed U.S. attorney, wanted to open up an investigation into voter fraud in Florida, but in order to do so, he had to get permission from the Justice Department. Keefe reportedly confided in Gaetz about the issue, and the two then met with President Trump to try to persuade him into getting the Justice Department to open the probe. However, when then-Attorney General William Barr heard about Keefe’s conversations, he allegedly scolded him, saying, “If I ever hear of you talking to Gaetz or any other congressman again about business before the Department, I am going to fucking fire your ass,” according to an anonymous source familiar with the call.
Gaetz said he knew nothing about the censure, but did confirm that after the three had met, Keefe told him that he couldn’t discuss matters of the probe with him anymore. “I got the sense that the politics of the Department of Justice were such that they did not want U.S. attorneys looking for election fraud in this type of very proactive way,” Gaetz said.