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‘SNL’ takes aim at Matt Gaetz amid reported sex trafficking investigation

Pete Davidson as Representative Matt Gaetz on "Saturday Night Live."
Pete Davidson as Representative Matt Gaetz on "Saturday Night Live."NBC

Representative Matt Gaetz has faced a number of serious allegations over the past week — beginning with the New York Times reporting last Tuesday that the Florida Republican is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws.

In both the opening sketch of “Saturday Night Live” — which featured the return of a talk show hosted by Britney Spears (played by Chloe Fineman) — and the long-running “Weekend Update” segment, the show mocked Gaetz for the various allegations made against him.

Multiple outlets have since reported that the Justice Department inquiry into Gaetz is said to be focused on cash payments Gaetz made to women, with federal prosecutors looking into whether he and a political ally — Joel Greenberg, who is facing sex trafficking allegations — may have offered gifts to underage girls or paid them in exchange for sex.

An ally of former president Donald Trump, Gaetz has also been accused of showing fellow lawmakers nude photos of women he said he had slept with, playing a “game” with those in the Florida Legislature in which members of the House got “points” for sleeping with “aides, interns, lobbyists, and married legislators,” and other allegations of sexual misconduct in recent days.

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The cold open began with Fineman’s Britney Spears — who has also received widespread media attention as of late for a renewed focus on her conservatorship battle — introducing audience members to her show, “Oops, you did it again.” The talk show segment was first aired amid controversies involving Texas Senator Ted Cruz and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“This is the show where we shine a light on the social pariahs of the week, and I get to decide whether they’re innocent or not that innocent,” Fineman said. “And speaking of pariahs, shout out to our sponsor: Georgia — voted best place not to vote.”

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The beginning of the sketch saw Lil Nas X (played by Chris Redd), who has faced backlash over the images of hell and homosexuality in his new music video “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” giving a lap dance to God. Pepé Le Pew (played by Kate McKinnon) also made an appearance on the talk show, with the “Looney Tunes” character addressing reports he was removed from the upcoming “Space Jam” sequel.

Then Gaetz (played by Pete Davidson) entered the scene.

“Our final guest is as we’d say in the early 2000s, a ‘hot mess,’ and as we’d say today, a ‘full-on sex pest,’” Fineman said, referring to Gaetz.

Fineman’s Spears began by rehashing various reports and allegations that have emerged over the past week: “So this whole story is so bizarre, so incredibly Florida that I need to get it straight. You were dating a 17-year-old and brought her on trips across state lines. Prostitutes say you took ecstasy and had sex with him in Florida hotel rooms. And your Republican colleagues in Congress say that you’ve shown them nude photos of women you were sleeping with.”

“Which is not a crime,” Davidson said, in response to the accusation about the photos. “Just horrifying.”

“I don’t know, Matt, I think I can spot a teen predator when I see one,” Fineman said. “After all, I was on ‘Mickey Mouse Club.’”

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When asked whether he believes the allegations made against him may hurt him in the next election, Davidson’s Gaetz replied: “Weirdly, in my district, they might help.”

Later on, during the show’s “Weekend Update,” co-host Colin Jost also mocked Gaetz, and in particular the statement he issued in the wake of the accusations — which featured the Florida Republican’s full name several times.

“Representative Matt Gaetz, who looks like a caricature artist’s drawing of me,” Jost said, momentarily pausing, “is reportedly under investigation for an alleged sexual relationship with an underage girl because Gaetz believes only voters should have to show ID.”

Jost continued: “It’s also being reported that Gaetz may have paid for sex with women he met online. That story has since been confirmed by his whole vibe.”

He then read aloud a statement Gaetz issued in his own defense:

“See if any of it sounds suspicious to you,” Jost said.

Jost, in turn, came up with his own response statement: “Colin Jost does not believe you. Colin Jost thinks you have been to alllll the websites. And Colin Jost thinks you should hold off on sending out those wedding invites.”


Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98.