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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) walking out of the Capitol in January 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Devin Murphy, Rep. Matt Gaetz's legislative director, has stepped down amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations against the Florida Republican 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 girl and claims that he shared naked images of women with other Congress members.

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, with federal sex trafficking 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.

Go deeper: Gaetz to speak at pro-Trump women's conference amid sex trafficking probe

Go deeper

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger calls for Rep. Matt Gaetz to resign

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) late Thursday called for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to resign amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations.

Why it matters: Kinzinger is the first congressional Republican to publicly demand Gaetz step down. Gaetz has denied allegations of being sexually involved with a 17-year-old, telling Axios in an interview last month that the investigation is "rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million."

Apr 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Rep. Gaetz declares he's "not going anywhere" amid sex trafficking probe

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) doubled down Friday night, saying he's not "going anywhere," and vowing, "I have not yet begun to fight," amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations.

What he's saying: “I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere,” Gaetz, who denies the allegations, said during a Women for America First event at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.

House Ethics panel opens investigation into Gaetz

Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks during panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, in February 2021. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House Ethics Committee announced Friday it has launched an investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is facing a federal probe into sex trafficking allegations.

Driving the news: The panel said it is aware of allegations that Gaetz "may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift."