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Former Air Force intelligence officer accused of trying to extort Matt Gaetz breaks silence to admit he DID ask congressman's father for $25M - but says it was to rescue American hostage Robert Levinson in Iran

 The former Air Force intelligence officer accused of trying to extort $25million from Florida Rep Matt Gaetz's family over a federal sex trafficking investigation has admitted that he did approach the congressman's father for money - but insists it wasn't an extortion scheme. 

Bob Kent sought to clear his name in a bizarre interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Monday night, where he explained that he contacted Gaetz's father Don last month seeking a $25million loan to finance a plot to rescue American hostage Robert Levinson in Iran. 

Kent claims to have evidence that Levinson, who disappeared more than a decade ago, is still alive, even though experts and his own family believe he is dead.  

He said that he thought involving Gaetz in the rescue mission would create 'good will' for the congressman as he faced 'legal issues' - in reference to allegations aired in the New York Times last week that Gaetz is under investigation for his relationship with a 17-year-old girl.   

'Matt Gaetz is in need of good publicity, and I'm in need of $25million to save Robert Levinson,' Kent said.  

He insisted that it was not his intention to extort the Gaetz family, saying that he told Don he wouldn't expose the investigation if he said no to the loan. 

'I stopped [Don] immediately and explained this was not an extortion attempt,' he explained. 'I said, look, this is a legitimate offer to help rescue Robert Levinson.'

Bob Kent, the former Air Force intelligence officer accused of trying to extort $25million from Florida Rep Matt Gaetz's family over a federal sex trafficking investigation, appeared on CNN on Monday and admitted that he did approach the congressman's father for money - but insists it wasn't an extortion scheme
Florida Rep Matt Gaetz

Bob Kent, the former Air Force intelligence officer accused of trying to extort $25million from Florida Rep Matt Gaetz's family over a federal sex trafficking investigation, appeared on CNN on Monday and admitted that he did approach the congressman's father for money - but insists it wasn't an extortion scheme

Kent sought to clear his name in a bizarre interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Monday night, where he explained that he approached Gaetz's father Don (above together) last month seeking a $25million lean to finance a plot to rescue American hostage Robert Levinson in Iran

Kent sought to clear his name in a bizarre interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Monday night, where he explained that he approached Gaetz's father Don (above together) last month seeking a $25million lean to finance a plot to rescue American hostage Robert Levinson in Iran

Kent told the same story in an interview with Sirius Radio host Michael Smerconish earlier on Monday. 

'I never threatened the man - matter of fact, it was the opposite: I told him if he decides not to help us, he'll never hear from me again,' Kent said of Don. 

'I can't help how it sounds.'

The complex saga began last week when the Times published its report citing three anonymous sources that Gaetz was under investigation by the Department of Justice for sex trafficking the 17-year-old girl. 

Gaetz hit back by denying that he'd had sex with the underage girl or trafficked her across state lines, as the Times story claimed, and instead claimed he was being targeted by extortionists. 

He said that a former DoJ official - David McGee - and Kent were trying to get $25million out of his family and was using the sex trafficking probe as leverage. McGee has denied it. 


Gaetz's father Don, a former Florida senator, backed up his son's claim and said that the pair were both working with the FBI on a simultaneous investigation into the alleged extortion attempt. 

On Wednesday, Gaetz produced text message screenshots and emails to The Washington Examiner in which McGee and Kent claimed to have knowledge of the sex trafficking investigation.   

According to the documents, Gaetz had been seen in compromising photos having sex with underage prostitutes.  

This is the text Matt Gaetz's father Don says he received from Kent

This is the text Matt Gaetz's father Don says he received from Kent

This document was given to Gaetz's father Don on March 17, allegedly by Kent. The plan involved the Gaetz family putting up $25million to secure Levinson's release but it doesn't say how the money would secure that

This document was given to Gaetz's father Don on March 17, allegedly by Kent. The plan involved the Gaetz family putting up $25million to secure Levinson's release but it doesn't say how the money would secure that 

Another document that Gaetz has produced is an email from the Assistant US Attorney for the Northern District of Florida which confirms that the family was working with the FBI

Another document that Gaetz has produced is an email from the Assistant US Attorney for the Northern District of Florida which confirms that the family was working with the FBI 

Bombshell texts, an email and a printout with the heading 'Project Homecoming' detail the alleged scheme involving former DOJ official David McGee (above) and former Air Force intelligence officer Bob Kent
The alleged plot tries to enlist Gaetz's financial backing - to the sum of $25 million - to pay to free Robert Levinson (above), who was captured 14 years ago in Iran and whose family said they were told he was dead

Bombshell texts, an email and a printout with the heading 'Project Homecoming' detail the alleged scheme involving former DOJ official David McGee (left) and former Air Force intelligence officer Bob Kent to free US hostage Robert Levinson (right)


McGee and Kent said that Gaetz was about to be indicted but that they could stop it if the Gaetz family put up $25million which would help secure Levinson's release. 

Levinson worked for the FBI for 22 years then vanished in 2007 while in Iran.  Nothing was known as to whether he was alive or dead until 2011 when Levinson's family shared images and a video of him being held captive and pleading for help. 

Levinson's family said in March 2020 that they had been informed by US officials that he had died in Iranian custody, while being held in Iran as the longest-held hostage in American history.

But Kent claimed he was very much alive and that if Gaetz provided the money to release him, he would be given public credit for the operation and the 'team' would tell President Biden to give him a pardon in the sex trafficking case. 

McGee used to work for the Department of Justice but now works in private practice and is the Levinson family's lawyer. 

Kent has claimed in the past that he has worked on plans to secure Levinson's release. 

Speaking to CNN on Monday night, Kent said that if Gaetz really believed he was being extorted 'he could have kept this quiet and gone to the FBI'.

Instead Kent said Gaetz 'exposed the Levinson family to additional grief, and he's capitalizing off that and trying to direct attention from himself'.

'Robert Levinson is a constituent of Matt Gaetz, and you know - the congressman just made the Levinson situation worse,' Kent said. 

'If he is alive, he is directly impacting his predicament right now.'

Cuomo pressed Kent to explain the details about the investigation that he included in his letter to Don - specifically the part about the allegedly compromising photos. 

'How confident are you in what you are told?' Cuomo asked.

Kent replied: 'So, you can never be confident of rumors. Those are just rumors that are rampant in north Florida among the legal and journalist communities. 

'I don't have any information on a federal investigation. Those were just rumors that were circulating.'

Asked about Don's claims that he was wearing a wire during their meeting, Kent said he hoped that was true because it would prove what he'd said.  

Kent spoke out for the first time as Gaetz published a defiant op-ed for the Washington Examiner, in which he insisted that he will not quit Congress, denied accusations he had sex with a 17-year-old girl and said he's being targeted by political enemies because he 'loathes the swamp.'

In a column the embattled Florida Republican predicted that 'some of my feckless colleagues in Congress' will call for him to step down.

'No, I am absolutely not resigning,' he wrote in one of his first public comments about the allegations.

Gaetz, starting his fifth year in Congress, has been battling to preserve his political career since reports last week that he is under federal investigation for possible sex crimes. 

There is also a string of lurid allegations against him including claims he was involved in a Harry Potter-themed sex game, paid for sex using Apple Pay and showed Congressional colleagues naked photos of women during session. 

Democrats have called for an ethics investigation over the nude images and Republicans have said they will call on him to resign if he is indicted, according to reports. 

'The Biden Justice Department would rather investigate me for adult, consensual sex than for his shady business dealings, than others for illegal leaks, or a former Justice Department official for the evident extortion of a congressman. Go figure,' he said.

Engaged since New Year's Eve to Ginger Lucky (left), he wrote: 'My lifestyle of yesteryear may be different from how I live now, but it was not and is not illegal.'

Engaged since New Year's Eve to Ginger Lucky (left), he wrote: 'My lifestyle of yesteryear may be different from how I live now, but it was not and is not illegal.' 

Pelosi: Gaetz should be kicked off committees if allegations are true
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As a Trump ally, Gaetz has so far received almost no public support from his congressional Republican colleagues and none from the former president.

The 38-year-old Gaetz is under scrutiny by federal prosecutors over whether he had sex with a 17-year-old and other underage girls and violated federal sex trafficking laws. That's according to people familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they could not discuss details publicly.

Gaetz, who has not been charged with any crimes, denied the accusations Monday.

'First, I have never, ever paid for sex,' he wrote. 'And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old.'

Engaged since New Year's Eve, he wrote: 'My lifestyle of yesteryear may be different from how I live now, but it was not and is not illegal.'

He added: 'Washington scandal cycles are predictable, and sex is especially potent in politics. Let me first remind everyone that I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal.

Gaetz also criticized Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, who defended Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal
He also referred to Gov.Andrew Cuomo's ten accusers

Gaetz also criticized Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, who defended Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal (left) and referred to Cuomo's ten accusers 

'Nancy Pelosi once defended President Bill Clinton after he got an intern to fellate him in the Oval Office. 

'But when it comes to the allegation that I, a grown man, paid for an adult girlfriend's expenses? Well, consider that a bridge too far for the power-hungry hypocrites.

'I want to be clear about something as we process the leaks and lies from the past week. To this point, there are exactly zero credible (or even non-credible) accusers willing to come forward by name and state on the public record that I behaved improperly toward them, in the manner by which Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ten accusers.

'Instead, CNN, the New York Times, Politico, and others are just repeating false allegations about a congressman who loathes the swamp and fights both sides of it on a daily basis.'

Gaetz used his column to attack Democrats, news organizations and others, saying his enemies are 'just repeating false allegations about a congressman who loathes the swamp and fights both sides of it on a daily basis.'

Trump has remained silent on the allegations despite the two men being close allies, Gaetz publicly supporting him in his impeachment trials and Gaetz getting engaged at Mar-a-Lago in December. Pictured Trump and Gaetz

Trump has remained silent on the allegations despite the two men being close allies, Gaetz publicly supporting him in his impeachment trials and Gaetz getting engaged at Mar-a-Lago in December. Pictured Trump and Gaetz

He also predicted: 'Im sure some partisan crooks in Merrick Garland´s Justice Department want to pervert the truth and the law to go after me.'

The FBI, the Biden administration's Justice Department and 'the Cheney political dynasty' were among the entities Gaetz accused of unjustly targeting him. Gaetz helped lead an unsuccessful battle early this year to depose Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, from her job as No. 3 House GOP leader.

'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 added.

'Yes, just like the mafia, the D.C. swamp protects its 'made men.' 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.'

He also pointed out criticism from 'anti-Trump cheerleaders' Meghan McCain and Bill Kristol.

Gaetz's article was published the same day a former congressional aide told reporters he was interviewed last week by the FBI. 

Nathan Nelson, a military adviser who left Gaetz's office in October, said he was questioned about whether he'd left that job because he knew of Gaetz's 'involvement in illegal activities.'

'I´m here this morning to state that nothing could be farther from the truth. Neither I nor any other member of Congressman Gaetz's staff had any knowledge of illegal activities,' Nelson said at his home in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

Nelson provided no specific details about the FBI's questioning. Without detailing them, he said he believes the charges against Gaetz are false.

Ginger Luckey and Matt Gaetz. Gaetz got engaged to food analyst Luckey, 26, in December at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago

Ginger Luckey and Matt Gaetz. Gaetz got engaged to food analyst Luckey, 26, in December at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago

Rep. Matt Gaetz's former head of military affairs, Nathan Nelson, said Monday that he was interviewed by the FBI last week, but the pretext of the interview was based on false claims, Nelson said, so he believed that salacious claims against Gaetz are also false

Rep. Matt Gaetz's former head of military affairs, Nathan Nelson, said Monday that he was interviewed by the FBI last week, but the pretext of the interview was based on false claims, Nelson said, so he believed that salacious claims against Gaetz are also false 

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