Former Air Force intelligence turned consultant Bob Kent admitted Monday he asked Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz for $25 million, but denies accusations of extortion.
During a Monday interview on SiriusXM’s The Michael Smerconish Program, one of the men Gaetz has accused of using an investigation into alleged liaisons with underage girls as the basis for extortion said that while he did ask for the money, it was to be part of a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Kent claims he approached Matt Gaetz with information leading Kent to believe that missing and presumed dead FBI agent Robert Levinson was still alive and suggested the embattled representative would have profited politically from helping to rescue Levinson. “Matt Gaetz is in need of good publicity, and I’m in need of $25 million to rescue Robert Levinson,” Kent told Smerconish. Kent also painted a very different picture of the conversation involved, going so far as to suggest extortion was addressed directly when he spoke to Gaetz’ father, Don.
“At first he started laughing and he said, ‘You know we get these extortion attempts all the time,’” he said. “And I said whoa, stop. This is not an extortion attempt. I’m not trying to extort him, I’m not, you know, that’s not what we’re doing here.” He claimed Gaetz was interested in the footage.
Kent denied any strings came with the multi-million dollar ask. “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,” he said. “I said if you want to help us, keep everything legal and above-board, it’ll have to go through the law firm,” he continued, referring to Levinson family attorney David McGee, whom Gaetz has accused of masterminding the extortion attempt.
Gaetz is facing a major investigation into his alleged sexual history. On The View this week, Meghan McCain claimed “there have always been weird rumors about Matt Gaetz on Capitol Hill. He’s always had a weird reputation.” She pointed out that he was the sole dissenting vote against a sex trafficking bill, and advocated for his resignation. “He should certainly resign in the same way that I think Cuomo should resign,” she said.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Gaetz had privately asked then-President Donald Trump for a preemptive pardon, but both Gaetz and the former president have denied the accusation. “Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon,” Trump said in a statement. “It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him.”
For himself, Gaetz has fully denied the suggestions of wrongdoing. “No part of the allegations against me are true and the people pushing these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation,” he wrote in a statement, demanding the Department of Justice “immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicate their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations.”