Asked if Republicans might act against Gaetz before an indictment if new information is revealed, McCarthy said, “That's a hypothetical question. I'll deal with whatever issue as it comes. As of right now, Matt Gaetz says he is innocent, there's an investigation going on and I'll let the investigation take care of itself."
McCarthy said he'd had no previous knowledge of the accusations against Gaetz.
Gaetz has publicly proclaimed his innocence, and no charges have been yet been filed. Though serving only his fifth year in Congress, his frequent television appearances and staunch support for former President Donald Trump have given him a high degree of visibility, especially in conservative circles.
His political career has been at risk since word of the investigation came out last month. He and other Florida Republicans and political allies are being examined as part of a broad public corruption inquiry by federal investigators that began last year during the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with the probe who described it only on condition of anonymity.
Prosecutors are said to be examining whether Gaetz and Joel Greenberg, a former county tax official, paid underage girls or offered them gifts in exchange for sex. One person said investigators were looking at trips Gaetz and other men took and whether women were paid to have sex with them or later received government jobs.
Gaetz is also the subject of a bipartisan House Ethics Committee investigation into accusations including sexual misconduct, illegal drug use, spending campaign funds for personal use and accepting a bribe or impermissible gift.
Gaetz has said little to reporters since returning to Washington this week after Congress' spring recess. Most Republicans have avoided commenting on his problems or taken neutral stances, saying it is premature to form opinions about what should happen.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has said removing Gaetz from his committees is “the least that could be done” to punish him if the charges against him prove true.