Former California Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, who resigned from Congress after fallout from a sex scandal, distanced herself from former colleague Matt Gaetz amid allegations he has engaged in sex trafficking involving a minor girl.
In an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett on Friday, Hill lashed out at the Florida Republican after he invoked her name earlier in the week while defending himself against the allegations.
“Clearly, I have a history of trusting men that I shouldn’t, and I think any criticism of my character assessment is probably warranted,” Hill began in response to Burnett’s question about whether the allegations about Gaetz rang true.
She went on to say that she was unaware that Gaetz, as a Florida state lawmaker, “opposed an anti-revenge porn law” and had not “heard about him sharing nude images.”
“But I have to wonder about what his motives were when he defended me back then, especially now knowing that these accusations have been coming up and that they are accusations from multiple people,” Hill said.
The former Democratic lawmaker was forced to resign in 2019 after she was exposed for having an extramarital “throuple” relationship with two legislative aides, which was a violation of House ethics rules.
Gaetz, meanwhile, is being investigated by the Justice Department for an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in connection with possible sex trafficking charges. He has denied the allegations and has said he is the victim of a $25 million extortion plot, which appears to have been verified.
In an op-ed published on Monday, Gaetz recalled his defense of Hill.
“My lifestyle of yesteryear may be different from how I live now, but it was not and is not illegal. I defended Rep. Katie Hill’s ‘throuple’ when her own Democratic colleagues wouldn’t. I just didn’t think it was anyone’s business,” he wrote. “My personal life is and always has been conducted on my own time and my own dime. Consensual adult relationships are not illegal.”
For her part, Hill also once defended Gaetz who came under attack from left-wing opponents after he introduced his 19-year-old adopted son Nestor last year.
“Nestor turned 19 a few days ago & will be off to University. He arrived here at 12. As you can imagine, I was triggered when (to make an absurd debate point) a fellow congressman diminished the contributions of Republicans because we don’t raise non-white kids. Well, I have,” Gaetz wrote on Twitter following a tense exchange with Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) during a debate about police reforms in the wake of the George Floyd incident.
In response, Hill tweeted, “Many of you know @mattgaetz & I have an unlikely friendship. I can’t stand a lot of his beliefs but he’s been there for me when others haven’t. He talks about Nestor more than anything, has done so much for his son & is truly a proud dad. This #freenestor thing is bulls***. Stop.”
But in her interview with Burnett, Hill pushed back on Gaetz’s invoking how he once defended her when others, including most of her own party, would not.
“I think it’s gross. Knowing now that that could have been just because he was trying to cover up for whatever his own indiscretions were … is just gross,” she said.
In an earlier interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Hill called on Gaetz to resign and said she felt “betrayed” by him.
On Friday, Gaetz vowed not to resign, echoing American Revolutionary War naval commander John Paul Jones’ famous line, “I have not yet begun to fight.”
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