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Matt Gaetz Handed Investigators a ‘Tremendous Gift’ After Sex Trafficking Accusations Revealed: Legal Experts

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According to former prosecutors and attorneys who watched Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL ) appear on Fox News and then fire off a series of tweets following the leak that he is under investigation for sex trafficking, the Florida conservative may have critically damaged his defense if he is indicted and headed to trial.

In a report from USA Today, legal experts were stunned that Gaetz’s advisors allowed him to go on Tucker Carlson’s show and discuss the accusations — with Carlson calling the appearance “the weirdest interview I’ve ever conducted” — and then make other public pronouncements

“Denying allegations before charges are filed is rare in general, although more common for political figures as a way to counter accusations in the court of public opinion,” USA Today reports. “Gaetz went on a full-court press when the allegations arose Tuesday, providing print and television interviews to confirm the investigation and promote his extortion claim. His public appearances declined later in the week, but he continued to proclaim his innocence and draw attention to news stories about the probe on Twitter.”

Former federal prosecutor Patrick Cotter called Gaetz’s comments a “tremendous gift” for the investigating Justice Department.

“The reason good lawyers don’t let clients talk to people who are investigating them usually is because it is so dangerous,. Even if you are completely innocent of the actual allegation, you may make statements which either open you up to an allegation that you’re making false statements to obstruct justice or otherwise mislead the investigators,” Cotter explained, adding, “It’s very dangerous because it paints him into a particular story, which later facts may show he’s not telling the truth about or honestly mistaken. It’s a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad idea legally.”

Jimmy Gurulé, a University of Notre Dame law professor and former federal prosecutor concurred.

“If Gaetz is trying to somehow trying to sway public opinion in his favor, which appears to be the case here, I think it comes at a very high price,” Gurulé explained. “There is a substantial downside and incredible risk. I think it’s his ego that is driving his conduct at this point and it’s very dangerous.”

Crisis communication expert Richard Levick added, “The strategy would be: go away. He’s trying desperately to save his career when really what he might want to be saving is his liberty.”

You can read more here.

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CRIME

Top Oath Keeper First to Flip in Capitol Insurrection Domestic Terrorism Investigation

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On the 100th day since the January 6 right wing insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, prosecutors have flipped a top member of the Oath Keepers anti-government domestic extremism group.

Jon Ryan Schaffer, a founding member of the Oath Keepers, is “the first defendant to potentially flip in the sprawling domestic terrorism investigation that has led to charges against more than 400 people,” The Washington Post reports.

He is expected to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation.

As of this writing Schaffer is in court and about to plea.

“Prosecutors hope Schaffer’s plea spurs others to provide additional evidence in hopes of avoiding long prison sentences.”

Schaffer turned himself in January 18 after being photographed inside the Capitol. He was charged with six crimes initially, but is expected to plead guilty to two felonies in the plea deal.

The Post adds “Schaffer has agreed to plead guilty to only two charges, but both are felony offenses carrying heavy penalties that federal prosecutors are relying on heavily in the wider probe.”

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CRIME

‘Love Hotel’: Gaetz’s Wingman Made ‘More Than 150 Venmo Payments to Dozens of Young Women’ Including a 17 Year Old: Report

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U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz‘s friend and ally, Joel Greenburg, an accused sex trafficker who now sits in jail facing 33 federal felony charges, made “more than 150 Venmo payments to dozens of young women,” one of whom was 17 years old at the time, The Daily Beast reports Wednesday night.

The Florida Republican Congressman also made a payment, to Greenburg directly, for $300, with a unique emoji: “🏩” which The Daily Beast reports stands for “love hotel.”

The payment “to the 17-year-old took place in June 2017. It was for $300 and, according to the memo field, was for ‘Food.'”

“Nearly a year after Greenberg’s June 2017 payment” to the 17-year old, “Gaetz Venmo’d Greenberg to ‘Hit up ___,’ using a nickname for the teen. She was 18 years old by then, and as The Daily Beast reported, Greenberg described the payment as being for ‘School.'”

“Greenberg paid multiple young women (and at least one girl) hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars on Venmo in one transaction after another,” according to the Beast, which reviewed years of transactions and calls it “an alleged sex ring.”

“In the Venmo transactions reviewed by The Daily Beast, however, there are at least 16 payments in 2017 totaling nearly $5,000 to a woman who would later go on to date Matt Gaetz. Additionally, Greenberg paid her $1,500 over the course of two days in April 2017 using Cash App. That woman—who came to Washington, D.C. as an intern in January 2018—has said she dated Gaetz during and after her senior year in college.”

Daily Beast reporter Matt Fuller (who is not bylined on the article) tweeted out some of the details from the piece:

Gaetz, while denying any wrongdoing, has confirmed he is under investigation by the Dept. of Justice, reportedly for sex trafficking of a minor, having a sexual relationship with a 17-year old girl, and illegal drug use. He is also accused of showing naked photos of women he slept with to members of Congress on the House floor.

Read the entire Daily Beast report here.

Related: Women Describe Parties They Attended With Matt Gaetz Fueled by Sex, Cocaine, and Cash Apps: Report

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CRIME

Women Describe Parties They Attended With Matt Gaetz Fueled by Sex, Cocaine, and Cash Apps: Report

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Between 2018 and 2019 U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) attended parties described by women who attended as fueled by drugs, sex, and cash – or digital cash apps.

“The first thing some of the women were asked to do when they got to the house parties in the gated community in suburban Orlando was to put away their cellphones,” CNN reveals in new reporting, citing “two women in attendance who spoke to CNN in recent days.”

“The men inside, a who’s who of local Republican officials that often included Rep. Matt Gaetz, did not want the night’s activities documented.”

“The partygoers, at times dressed in formal wear from a political event they’d just left, mingled and shared drugs like cocaine and ecstasy. Some had sex.”

Among the partygoers was now-former county tax commissioner Joel Greenberg, a close friend of Gaetz, who has been indicted on 33 federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor.  Gaetz has described Greenberg as his “wingman.”

“One of the women said she received money from Greenberg after some of the parties,” CNN adds. “She said that some of the payments were for providing sex but would not say who she slept with. She did say she never received money directly from Gaetz.”

Gaetz has admitted he is under federal investigation as well, although he steadfastly denies any wrongdoing, while saying it is not illegal to pay women for meals and travel. He has obtained two high-powered attorneys.

“After some parties, money would change hands,” CNN reports, noting that Gaetz and Greenberg “used digital payment applications to send hundreds of dollars to at least one woman who attended the parties.”

Late Tuesday Politico reported federal agents obtained a search warrant and seized Gaetz’s cell phone last year, a stunning revelation given he is a sitting U.S. Congressman and a federal judge had to sign off on the warrant request.

 

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