- Rep. Matt Gaetz is embroiled in a sex-trafficking scandal and is under investigation.
- He boasted he was a "marked" and "canceled" man at his first high-profile public appearance since the scandal began.
- The event marked the kickoff of his "America First" tour with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
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Rep. Matt Gaetz boasted about being a "canceled" and "marked" man during his first high-profile public appearance since becoming embattled in a federal investigation into whether he violated sex trafficking laws.
"I'm a marked man in Congress. I'm a canceled man in some corners of the Internet. I might be a wanted man by the deep state. But I am a Florida man, and it is good to be home," Gaetz said during a speech in central Florida on Friday night, Politico reported.
"Today, we send a strong message to the weak establishment in both parties: America First isn't going away. We're going on tour," he continued.
Gaetz was joined by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene - a freshman Republican who has embraced far-right conspiracy theories - at an event marking the start of their "America First" tour.
Addressing an elderly crowd at The Villages, a sprawling senior community and conservative stronghold about 45 miles northwest of Orlando, Gaetz also claimed that the "truth will prevail" and that he won't back down. He did accept, however, that he might lose committee assignments, Politico said.
The controversial Republican congressman and loyal ally to former President Donald Trump have not been charged but is facing a federal probe into potential public corruption and serious allegations that he violated federal sex-trafficking laws and engaged in a sexual relationship with a minor.
The House Ethics Committee is also investigating Gaetz over allegations of sexual misconduct, drug use, and reports that he'd shown photos of nude women to colleagues.
There have been calls on the congressman to resign, something which Gaetz has insisted he will not do. He has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct and wrongdoing but has kept a low profile since the claims against him emerged.
Gaetz also used the public appearance to blast big tech, the so-called "deep state," and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, Politico reported.