Archive for Sarah Al-Arshani

At least 64 people have died at the hands of police since Derek Chauvin’s trial began. More than half were people of color.

Chauvin trial
Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd.
  • 64 people died at the hands of police since Chauvin's trial began, The New York Times reported.
  • Former officer Derek Chauvin was charged with the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.
  • Police across the country killed an average of 3 people a day since the trial started on March 29.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

At least 64 people, more than half of which are people of color, have died at the hands of police since the start of Derek Chauvin's trial, The New York Times reported.

In May 2020, the former Minneapolis police officer was charged with the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.

Chauvin's trial started on March 29, and the number of deaths at the hands of police in the 21 days since then average to more than 3 people a day.

On March 29, police in Chicago fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo after chasing him down an alley.

The next day, Michael Hughes, 32, was fatally shot by police at a Quality Inn in Jacksonville, Florida, after police said he tried to grab a taser, WJXT reported.

On March 31, a 40-year-old mentally ill man in Claremont, New Hampshire, was shot multiple times and killed after an exchange of gunfire with state police, The Concord Monitor reported.

On April 11, an officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, fatally shot Daunte Wright, 20, during a traffic stop. His death is not far from where Floyd died and where Chauvin is on trial.

Incidents like these have occurred every day since and activists across the country are calling for change to the way law enforcement deals with civilians, especially people of color.

"How many more losses must we mourn?" Miski Noor, the co-executive director of the Minneapolis-based activist group Black Visions, told The Times.

Of the 64 incidents reviewed by The Times, at least 42 involved people accused of having firearms, more than 12 involved people who were mentally ill, and several involved domestic violence.

Additionally, almost all the victims were men, the vast majority Black or Latino. The majority were also young; many of whom under the age of 3o include four who were just teenagers, The Times found.

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A California police department fired an officer who was a former Proud Boy. He says it’s unfair and he never saw any ‘kind of racism’ while he was affiliated with them.

proud boys
Members of the Proud Boys gather in support of President Donald Trump and in protest the outcome of the 2020 presidential election near freedom plaza on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC.
  • The Fresno Police Department fired an officer after learning he was affiliated with the Proud Boys.
  • Rick Fitzgerald told Insider that he was never interviewed as part of the investigation.
  • He said he left the group in November but never saw any "racism" when he first joined.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A California police department fired an officer from within its ranks because it was revealed he had been affiliated with the Proud Boys.

In a statement, Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said officer Rick Fitzgerald was fired on Friday after an internal affairs investigation was launched last month when they became aware of online images and videos that showed Fitzgerald rallying with the Proud Boys at a November pro-Trump demonstration that turned violent.

"Such ideology, behavior, and affiliations have no place in law enforcement and will not be tolerated within the ranks of the Fresno Police Department," Balderrama said in the statement. "Public trust and accountability are paramount in our ability to fairly police this community."

Fitzgerald told Insider he joined the group because he agreed with their tenets.

"I looked at their tenets, and I said, okay, well, these guys are, you know, pro-First amendment, for the Second Amendment. You know, they don't want drug wars. They want to uplift the entrepreneur, and they want to uplift the housewife. I didn't see anything on there that was misogynistic. I didn't see anything that was anti-race." he said.

But Fitzgerald changed his tune after going to the November rally and left to form his own group, the Sons of '76.

According to its website, Sons of '76 is "a group of men who believe in uplifting and defending this brotherhood as well as our families, communities, and nation."

The Fresno Bee reported that Fitzgerald was placed on administrative leave in March after an online video surfaced of him with the Proud Boys.

The FPD opened an internal investigation into Fitzgerald, who told Insider he was supposed to be interviewed on April 12 but was fired before speaking to anyone.

"I didn't get to talk to anybody, nothing. So they sent me the packet as to their justification as to why they were going to fire me, and it was like, there was nothing there. I mean, you could argue like the protocol and stuff, but I mean in terms of, like, the stuff they were claiming, there was nothing to justify the immediate termination," he told Insider.

"Like there was no reason why I shouldn't have had at least due process, but they weren't interested in getting a statement from me or anything like that. To this day, I have not given a statement to them because they're just not interested," Fitzgerald continued.

Insider was unable to corroborate Fitzgerald's account of his firing. Messages to the Fresno Police Department were not returned. When contacted by CNN about Fitzgerald's claims, the FPD said legal constraints prevented it from commenting further.

In a video preserved by the Fresno Bee from Fitzgerald's now-deleted YouTube channel, he said: "I don't care if it's Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Patriot Prayer, Sons of '76, get involved. We're gonna be facing some dark times with Biden and Kamala-lalla up there doing God knows what."

In a post titled "trench warfare" that was published in December on the Sons of '76 website, Fitzgerald talks about ongoing "battles" between "Tifa" - a reference to the Antifa - and the Proud Boys, drawing similarities between them and the trench warfare used in World War II.

He signed his post using the name "Sheepdog."

At one point, he writes: "I saw an article on YouTube by Tim Pool. It basically eluded to the Proud Boys this weekend beating the hell out of Tifa. Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with anyone slapping these kids around and have dealt with them on my own terms," before adding that he sees the fight between the two groups as an endless cycle with no winner.

He told Insider he wasn't inciting violence with this post, but instead was expressing frustration he felt that Antifa was reportedly taking over cities like Portland, and he wanted "ordinary Americans" to be able to go about their day without "being harassed by a bunch of kids in black."

Fitzgerald said he personally interacted with Antifa members when he played in a band and was doxxed after locals found out he was a cop. He said he had 300 messages from people who wanted to "kick my a--," and no one wanted to listen to his side of the story. Insider has not been able to independently verify his story.

"I'm just like, wow. I mean, I'm a libertarian. I don't care what you guys do. If you guys want to do whatever, I'm good with that. But they don't care because once they find out something about you, they run with that narrative and then fill in the blanks, and then they just start attacking you," he said.

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The World Health Organization urges people to stop playing fast and loose with the pandemic as coronavirus cases and deaths soar

london reopening COVID-19
Revellers drink in Soho as non essential retail reopens on April 12, 2021 in London, United Kingdom.
  • The WHO warned people not to get complacent about the pandemic as COVID-19 cases surge worldwide.
  • While vaccines offer hope, only 1 in 500 people in poor countries have received a shot.
  • Officials warned cases have been rising for weeks, with 4.4 million new cases recorded last week.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The World Health Organization urged people to stop playing fast and loose with the pandemic as COVID-19 cases rise across the globe.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead for COVID-19, said cases have been rising for seven weeks with 4.4 million new cases recorded last week. A year ago, only 500,000 cases were being recorded in a week.

"This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic where we have proven control measures," Van Kerkhove said. "It is time right now where everyone has to take stock and have a reality check about what we need to be doing."

Worldwide there have been over 136.4 million COVID-19 cases recorded so far, with more than 2.9 million deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Officials said that while vaccinations were speeding up in parts of the world, many countries, specifically poorer ones have vaccinated very few people.

The Los Angeles Times reported that as many as 60 countries are seeing their vaccination efforts stalled as shipments from Covax, the global initiative to provide vaccines to countries who can't get them on their own, were halted.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday slammed the imbalance of COVID-19 distribution saying while rich countries like the US and UK have seen one in four people get a dose, in poorer countries only one in 500 people had gotten a dose.

"Vaccines and vaccinations are coming online, but they're not here yet in every part of the world where they need to be," Van Kerkhove said.

Ghebreyesus urged people to continue maintaining safety measures like social distancing, wearing masks, and testing, all of which help curb the pandemic and save lives.

"But confusion, complacency, and inconsistency in public health measures and their application are driving transmission and costing lives," he said.

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Gaetz and Trump rep challenge report that the Florida congressman was denied a meeting with the former president

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is seen during a break in the House Judiciary Committee hearing on policing practices and law enforcement accountability in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.
  • GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz was reportedly denied a meeting with Trump, CNN reported.
  • Gaetz called the report false and said he never sought out a meeting with the former president.
  • The DOJ is currently investigating whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz, who is facing federal sex trafficking allegations, was reportedly denied a meeting with Donald Trump as aides try to distance the former president from him, CNN reported.

Two anonymous sources who were familiar with the situation told the outlet that the Florida congressman tried to schedule a visit to Mar-a-Lago this week but was denied.

Following CNN's report, Gaetz took to Twitter to say he never asked for a meeting.

"This is a total lie. I am on a pre-planned vacation with my fiancée. I was welcomed at Trump Doral days ago," Gaetz said in a tweet. "No such meeting was denied nor sought. Gabby, "unnamed sources" lied. When can we expect a retraction?"

Trump spokesman Jason Miller also said no meeting was ever sought.

"This @CNN story is complete fake news. No such scheduling or meeting request was ever made, and therefore, it could never have been declined. Take note that this story has zero on-the-record sources. It's literally made-up. We are demanding a full retraction. #FakeNews," Miller said in a tweet.

The Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and violated federal sex trafficking laws. There have been a number of new developments in the two weeks since news of the investigation was first revealed.

Gaetz, whose office issued a statement saying he "has never paid for sex," allegedly sent $900 to political ally Joel Greenberg, who was previously indicted on sex trafficking charges. Greenberg then sent the money to three women via payment apps.

The House Ethics Committee has opened a bipartisan investigation into the allegations against Gaetz. He has been accused of sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, and sharing nude images on the House floor.

Trump was reportedly talked out of defending Gaetz by his aides as allegations surfaced and has remained silent on the issue. He has, however, denied reports that Gaetz ever asked for a blanket pardon from him before he left office.

Gaetz's office did not reply to Insider's email request for comment.

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A Boston patrol cop allegedly abused a 12-year-old in 1995. Last year the victim reported that his daughter was abused by the same cop, who kept his badge despite an investigation finding he likely committed the crime.

Boston police
A Boston police car sits outside the Long Wharf Marriott hotel in Boston on March 12, 2020.
  • A former Boston patrolman is facing charges for allegedly sexually assaulting minors.
  • The Boston Police Department knew of allegations since 1995, the Boston Globe reported.
  • Last summer, six minors came forward with new allegations of abuse against Patrick M. Rose Sr.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Boston Police Department knew its union leader had previous allegations of sexual assault against a minor before a man and his daughter went to a police station last summer to report she had been molested, the Boston Globe reported.

In 1995, the father had also alleged Patrick M. Rose Sr. assaulted him when he was 12 years old. The police department at the time filed a criminal complaint against Rose and investigated the accusations. They found that it was likely that Rose had committed a crime.

The boy was reportedly pressured to recant his story and the criminal investigation was dropped in 1996, but a police internal affairs investigation continued and found that Rose broke the law.

Additionally, court records showed that after the criminal case was dropped, Rose's abuse of the boy continued and also "escalated," but the department has not said what disciplinary action if any was taken.

Despite this, he was still able to keep his badge and work as a patrolman for 21 more years, and also served as the head of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association from 2014 until he retired in 2018, the Globe reported.

Rose was arrested in August of last year after the daughter's allegations. Since then, five more people have come forward with allegations against him.

Mass Live reported last August that the girl, now 14, alleged she was repeatedly assaulted by Rose between the ages of 7 and 12.

He's now in jail and faces 33 counts of sexual abuse. The six victims range from 7 to 16 years old.

Three of the victims who came forward said Rose assaulted them in the 1990s and another said the assault took place in recent years, Mass Live reported.

"My client maintains his innocence to all of the charges that have been brought against him and he maintains his innocence to what was alleged to have transpired back in 1995," his attorney, William J. Keefe, told the Globe.

The Boston Police Department did not reply to Insider's request for comment at the time of publication.

The Globe learned that despite the known allegations and internal review results, Rose was still allowed contact with children in his role, in some cases being dispatched to assist minors in sexual assault cases.

In 1999 he was sent to help a 14-year-old girl who called police crying, reporting that she'd been raped. He was also the arresting officer in a 2006 child sex assault case.

"What we're describing here is an example of an institutional and systemic failure," former Boston police lieutenant Tom Nolan told the Globe. "The department had a responsibility to ensure that this individual was no longer employed in the ranks of the Boston Police Department."

Rose is currently being held in the Berkshire County Jail on $200,000 cash bail.

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A ‘Boogaloo’ extremist group destroyed evidence from an investigation into one of their members who allegedly killed a police officer

boogaloo boys
Members of the Boogaloo Movement stand in front of the Ohio Statehouse during a right-wing protest "Stand For America Against Terrorists and Tyrants" at State Capitol on July 18, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio.
  • Members of the "boogaloo" movement tried to cover up evidence in a federal probe, officials said.
  • A member of a California group was arrested and charged with killing a federal officer.
  • Four members of that group deleted messages that referenced the incidents that led to his arrest.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Members of the "Boogaloo" extremist movement were charged with conspiring to destroy evidence tied to the investigation of a fatal shooting of a federal officer, authorities said on Friday.

Four members of the Northern California-based Grizzly Scouts allegedly tried to cover up that one of their members had shot and killed the officer, a federal grand jury indictment said.

A second officer was also injured during the incident.

Authorities said Jessie Alexander Rush, 29, Robert Jesus Blancas, 33, Simon Sage Ybarra, 23, and Kenny Matthew Miksch, 21, conspired to destroy communications and other records tied to the May 29, 2020 incident.

Chat messages including one that read: "Dudes i offed a fed," were deleted.

The Grizzly Scouts connected on a Facebook group with a description that referenced the "boogaloo movement" and would periodically meet in person for firearms training and other purposes.

The "boogaloo" movement is not one cohesive group but rather a string of loosely connected extremists and militias that believe in a theoretical second US civil war and uprising against the federal government.

CNN previously reported that Steven Carrillo, 32, was arrested last year and charged with murder in connection with a May 2020 shooting that resulted in the death of Federal Protective Service officer David Patrick Underwood in Oakland.

Carillo was also charged and arrested for the June 6 murder of Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, but has pleaded not guilty to charges for both cases, CNN reported.

According to the recent indictment, Carillo sent a WhatsApp message to a group of Grizzly Scouts and reportedly said he was "preparing to engage in a shoot-out with law enforcement" and asked other members to help him.

Rush then instructed the group to delete messages, and not long after the shooting, Blancas also deleted files that were stored in a Dropbox account. All four men accused also reportedly connected on another platform hours after the shooting and deleted WhatsApp group messages including those that mentioned violence against law enforcement from their phones.

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A researcher suggested US Capitol rioters came from towns that fear the rise of immigrants and people of color. Reactions to that finding reveal how divided the right and left are.

capitol riot siege
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 6: Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification.
  • A researcher found that Capitol rioters hailed from towns with dwindling white populations.
  • Robert Pape found rioters came from towns with a fear of growing populations of people of color.
  • Readers had conflicting feelings on the results of the study, but mostly agreed.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A researcher evaluated 377 people arrested so far for alleged involvement in the January 6 Capitol riot and found the vast majority of them hailed from towns with dwindling white populations and a rise in immigrants and people of color.

The findings, published in a Washington Post op-ed and a follow-up report from The New York Times, prompted varying reactions from readers. While many seemed to agree with the conclusions, others said the study didn't highlight how flawed the thinking of these insurrectionists is, and some said it unfairly depicted a small minority as part of a larger trend.

On January 6, supporters of former President Donald Trump breached the US Capitol and clashed with law enforcement. The riot resulted in the deaths of five people, including a police officer. Police have said somewhere between 800 to 1,000 people entered the Capitol during the riot, but three months later, less than 400 have been arrested and charged.

Robert Pape a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, said those involved were mostly white and male and hailed from counties that are seeing an increased percentage of non-white people which is causing them to feel as though they are on the brink of losing power.

In many instances, the rioters lived in towns that voted democratic overall. Pape said the issue needed to be looked at as a trend.

"To ignore this movement and its potential would be akin to Trump's response to covid-19: We cannot presume it will blow over. The ingredients exist for future waves of political violence, from lone-wolf attacks to all-out assaults on democracy, surrounding the 2022 midterm elections," Pape wrote.

Pape told the Times he also did an analysis on suicide bombers following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in an effort that helped uncover trends. He said what happened at the Capitol on January 6 should be given the same attention, but it's still just the beginning of the research.

"We really still are at the beginning stages," Pape said.

Some readers said the finding wasn't surprising and confirmed what activists had been saying for a while. They also questioned whether it was fair for white Americans to fear a racial tide or reduced privileges, highlighting ongoing cases of hate crimes and racial violence against minorities.

"Are white people actually concerned about the turning of the tables? That they will be told to go back to where they came from, that they will be attacked on the street, that their loved ones will be choked or shot to death by a police officer? Are they concerned about being stereotyped by employers because their first names are Karen or Brad? Do they think medical doctors will ignore their symptoms and undertreat their pain, because you know how those people are?" one reader wrote in response to the Times article, highlighting the experiences of people of color.

Others, however, said the study may be skewed given that it only looks at data from 377 people arrested in relation to the riots - a sample size too small to make any conclusion about a trend.

"The relatively small pool of data (377 arrests), combined with the skewed nature of those who could attend (the money, time and airport access needed for many of the attendees to take such a trip) doesn't allow for much granular analysis," one reader wrote.

Some said that those who attended do not represent Republicans or a growing trend among former Trump supporters. Pape wrote that there were similarities between the riots and two other Trump rallies which resulted in a small number of arrests but added that the violent turn of events on January 6 could be tied to Trump's incitement.

Trump was impeached in the House over a charge that he incited the insurrection by telling a crowd to "fight like hell." He was later acquitted of those charges by the Senate.

In his, op-ed, Pape wrote that rioters were concerned about the "great replacement" - a theory championed by white supremacists that claims immigrants and people of color will replace white people because immigration is ramping up while white birth rates are low.

"They witness the changes occurring around them every day, and they are so insecure, fearful, and paranoid that they can't conceive of any way to compete in their changing environment except to deny the inevitable changes and irrationally fight to keep things as they used to be - - - the very definition of 'right-wing, ultra-conservative magativity'," a Post reader commented.

Insider has reached out to Pape for comment.

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French prosecutors are investigating whether senior ministers broke COVID-19 restrictions by dining in luxury restaurants

A picture taken on Avril 2, 2021 shows a view of the Eiffel Tower from behind a wooden fence in Paris.
  • French investigators are looking into whether senior ministers violated COVID-19 restrictions.
  • The Paris prosecutor's office opened the investigation on Sunday, France24 reported.
  • It comes after an M6 report said ministers were dining in luxury restaurants despite the lockdown.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

French prosecutors are investigating reports that senior ministers broke COVID-19 restrictions and dined in luxury restaurants in Paris, France24 reported.

The investigation, which was opened on Sunday by the Paris prosecutor's office, was prompted by an undercover report from the French outlet M6 that luxury restaurants in wealthy Parisian neighborhoods were allowing "private" dinners.

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron said the country would go into a four-week lockdown as France struggled to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"We will lose control if we do not move now," Macron said in a televised address.

An unidentified man told M6 that he'd dined out in a few restaurants with a number of ministers, prompting French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to call for an investigation.

"We are still in a democracy," the man said in the M6 segment. "We do what we want."

The Washington Post reported that the man was identified Pierre-Jean Chalençon, the owner of the Palais Vivienne venue in central Paris.

Chalençon then retracted his statement and said he was joking, but authorities said they're still investigating, France24 reported.

"There are not two types of citizens - those who have the right to party and those who do not," Darmanin said.

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Younger people seem to be contracting more transmissible variants, causing another COVID-19 surge in Michigan

coronavirus covid hospital chaplain patient intubated
Chaplain Kevin Deegan places his hand on the head of a COVID-19 patient while praying for him at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles on January 9, 2021.
  • Michigan is experiencing another surge in coronavirus cases.
  • The surge seems to be attributed to younger people getting infected with variants.
  • CDC director Rochelle Walensky previously warned that the US could experience another surge.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

As the country ramps up its vaccination efforts against COVID-19, Michigan is battling another surge in cases as a result of more transmissible variants, especially among younger people.

Dr. Justin Skrzynski, a coronavirus hospitalist at Beaumont Health's Royal Oak facility, told CNN regular testing still only shows if someone is positive or negative for coronavirus. However, many of the samples that are sent to the state to be tested for mutations have come back showing 40% of patients are infected with the B.1.1.7 variant, which was discovered in the United Kingdom last November.

The variant is more transmissible and studies have suggested it's also deadlier.

Late last month, Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that a fourth surge was on its way as cases, deaths, and hospitalizations began to trickle upwards. "Right now I'm scared," Walensky said during a White House press briefing last month.

On Monday, Walensky said younger people are fueling the latest spike in COVID-19 cases across the country, citing school reopenings and after-school sports.

"We are learning that many outbreaks in young people are related to youth sports and extracurricular activities. According to CDC guidance, these activities should be limited," Walensky said.

Tina Catron, 44, who is hospitalized for COVID-19, told CNN she suspects her family became infected via her kid's soccer league.

"We're not 100% sure," she told CNN, "but we think from the soccer field, with the parents, even though we're all masked up. From the sidelines, everyone's yelling. And I think what happened is my husband was with my son, his soccer game. And he brought it home."

The Detroit News reported last week that COVID-19 cases among kids ages 10 to 19 in the state rose by 133% in the four weeks prior.

The state reported 10,293 new coronavirus cases and 21 additional deaths over the past two days. Overall, Michigan has recorded more than 700,000 cases with over 16,000 deaths.

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A former Gaetz adviser said sex-trafficking allegations are ‘baseless’ but gave no evidence and said he hasn’t spoken to the congressman in months

Matt Gaetz
CHEYENNE, WY - JANUARY 28: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) holds a phone to the microphone as Donald Trump Jr. speaks remotely to a crowd during a rally against Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on January 28, 2021 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Gaetz and Trump Jr. added their voices to a growing effort to vote Cheney out of office after she voted in favor of impeaching Donald Trump.
  • A former aide for Rep. Matt Gaetz said the sex trafficking allegations against him were "baseless."
  • Nathaniel Nelson did not provide any evidence and also said he hadn't spoken to Gaetz in months.
  • The DOJ is investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in 2019.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

During a press conference on Monday, a former adviser for GOP rep. Matt Gaetz said sex-trafficking allegations surrounding the congressman are baseless but said he hadn't spoken with Gaetz in months.

Former Air Force Capt. Nathaniel Nelson, who served as Gaetz's director of military affairs, said he was contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shortly after news broke that the Department of Justice was investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in 2019 and broke federal sex-trafficking laws.

Nelson said he was questioned about whether or not he knew of Gaetz's activity after members of the media tipped off the FBI that Nelson may have resigned because he knew about illegal activities.

"I'm here to state this morning that nothing could be further from the truth," Nelson said at the press conference in front of his home. "Neither I, nor any other member of Congressman Gaetz's staff had any knowledge of illegal activities."

Nelson also said the allegations were "baseless."

"This baseless claim against me leaves me further convinced that the allegations against Congressman Gaetz are likewise fabricated," he said.

Nelson said he already had pre-arranged plans to leave Gaetz in October 2020 to enter the private sector. However, the former aide did not provide any evidence against the allegations.

"I'm not here to provide any degree of evidence in support of Congressman Gaetz, only to discredit these baseless allegations," he said. "I don't have any specific knowledge on the investigation or any of the facts that are involved with the investigation."

He also added that he hasn't spoken with Gaetz for some time. "You know, I haven't had the opportunity to speak to Congressman Gaetz in several months," Nelson said.

In response to reports on Nelson's FBI questioning, Gaetz said on Twitter: "The FBI is literally running down false media rumors. They are investigating people, not crimes."

Gaetz's office did not reply to Insider's request for comment.

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