Devin Murphy, Rep. Matt Gaetz's legislative director, has stepped down amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations against the Florida congressman, the New York Times first reported and Axios has confirmed.
The latest: "It's been real," Murphy wrote in an email, obtained by Axios, to Republican legislative directors on Saturday morning, with the subject line: "Well...bye."
Context: Gaetz, who has not been charged with any crimes, has repeatedly denied allegations of being sexually involved with a 17-year-old and claims that he shared naked images of women with other Congress members.
- The Florida Republican doubled down on his denials on Friday evening, saying he's not "going anywhere," and vowing, "I have not yet begun to fight."
- Gaetz's communications director Luke Ball resigned in early April.
What they're saying: As of Saturday afternoon, Murphy's automated email response says: "I am no longer with the office of Congressman Matt Gaetz. Womp womp. Cue the sad trombone."
- Murphy directed requests to Isabela Belchior, who was named as legislative counsel for Gaetz in February. She previously assisted Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) in the 2020 impeachment trial of former President Trump.
- Murphy told associates he was interested in working on legislation, not working at TMZ, the New York Times reported earlier this week.
- Murphy left, not because of the representative's legal troubles, but over media coverage of the investigation, per CNN.
The big picture: The House Ethics Committee announced Friday it had launched a probe into Gaetz.
- Gaetz said the Justice Department launched an investigation after charging one of his associates, Joel Greenberg, on a federal sex trafficking charge and other crimes.
- A lawyer for Greenberg indicated last week that he is in plea negotiations with federal prosecutors over his sex trafficking of a minor. A plea deal may indicate that Greenberg is open to cooperating with investigators by providing information though it's unknown how deep the negotiations are.