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Matt Gaetz’s Defense in Sex Trafficking Case Is Already Falling Apart: Report

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According to a report from the Daily Beast, the first defense that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) offered when accused of sex trafficking is already falling apart as investigators look into his claims.

As the Beast’s Roger Sollenberger reports, the embattled Florida Republican started off his defense on Fox News, telling host Tucker Carlson, “It is a horrible allegation, and it is a lie,” before adding, “The New York Times is running a story that I have traveled with a 17-year-old woman, and that is verifiably false. People can look at my travel records and see that that is not the case.”

However, according to Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Gaet’z’s travel records offer him no help with his defense.

“The spending surrounding the Gaetz campaign simply doesn’t say what he wants it to say,” Libowitz explained before adding, “One, the reports don’t offer specific information; and two, it’s not clear whether he’s even saying that his campaign filings will exonerate him. If he’s paying out of pocket, we won’t know the answers without a subpoena.”

In fact, as Sollenberger reports, an examination of the Florida Republican’s travel records raise even more questions — particularly about his relationship with a friend already under investigation by authorities.

“As Gaetz knows, his campaign filings don’t have any sort of information that would prove he never participated in a sex ring or paid for the travel of an underage minor. What his filings do show, though, is that Gaetz had a close relationship with Joel Greenberg—the Seminole County tax collector indicted on sex trafficking charges.” the report states before noting a controversial visit the two made to a state office on a weekend, reportedly to get a new drivers license or ID for Gaetz.

Noting that the GOP lawmaker is not a resident of Seminole County, the report adds, “Gaetz isn’t a Seminole County resident. The first information on the county’s drivers license website says the office ‘will process only ‘Seminole County Residents’ for ALL Driver License or ID Card services. No exceptions will be made.’ The site tells applicants that if they can’t produce proof of residency, ‘a ticket for driver license or ID card services will NOT be serviced.'”

According to Libowitz, “It makes sense if he had to pick up the ID. But I don’t know why a sitting congressman wouldn’t be able to do that on his own, in his own county, and why he’d have to get a friend to do it for him.”

He added about Gaetz’s travel filings, “You can only use campaign funds for efforts that go towards an election. So under the theory that he went to Orlando to get a license unlawfully, he would have a tough case to make—that it’s appropriate to use your campaign to get around state law. And that would be a stretch.”

Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at government watchdog the Campaign Legal Center, concurred, telling the Beast, “This is something the FEC should catch. It’s tough to tell on the face who was traveling and for what purpose. So it can be really hard just from a public report to tell the difference between a legit expense and personal use of funds.”

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‘Repercussions’: Democrats and Republicans Stand Against ‘Pro-Putin’ House GOP Faction

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Some House Democrats and House Republicans are coming together toward a common opponent: far-right “pro-Putin” hardliners in the House Republican conference, who appear to be led by U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

Congresswoman Greene has been threatening to oust the Republican Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson. Last month she filed a “motion to vacate the chair.” If she chooses to call it up she could force a vote on the House floor to try to remove Speaker Johnson.

House Democrats say they are willing to vote against ousting Johnson, as long as the Speaker puts on the floor desperately needed and long-awaited legislation to fund aid to Ukraine and Israel. Johnson has refused to put the Ukraine aid bill on the floor for months, but after Iran attacked Israel Johnson switched gears. Almost all Democrats and a seemingly large number of Republicans want to pass the Ukraine and Israel aid packages.

RELATED: Marjorie Taylor Greene, ‘Putin’s Envoy’? Democrat’s Bills Mock Republican’s Actions

Forgoing the possibility of installing Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries as Speaker, which is conceivable given Johnson’s now one-vote majority, Democrats say if Johnson does the right thing, they will throw him their support.

“I think he’ll be in good shape,” to get Democrats to support him, if he puts the Ukraine aid bill on the floor, U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) told CNN Thursday. “I would say that there’s a lot of support for the underlying bills. I think those are vital.”

“If these bills were delivered favorably, and the aid was favorably voted upon, and Marjorie Taylor Greene went up there with a motion to remove him, for instance, I think there’s gonna be a lot of Democrats that move to kill that motion,” Congressman Krishnamoorthi said. “They don’t want to see him getting punished for doing the right thing.”

“I think it is a very bad policy of the House to allow one individual such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is an arsonist to this House of Representatives,” U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) told CBS News’ Scott MacFarlane, when asked about intervening to save Johnson. He added he doesn’t want her “to have so much influence.”

U.S. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, one of several Republicans who won their New York districts in 2022, districts that were previously held by Democrats, opposes Greene’s motion to vacate – although he praised the Georgia GOP congresswoman.

CNN’s Manu Raju reports Republicans “say it’s time to marginalize hardliners blocking [their] agenda.”

D’Esposito, speaking to Raju, called for “repercussions for those who completely alienate the will of the conference. The people gave us the majority because they wanted Republicans to govern.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Lawler, like D’Esposito is another New York Republican who won a previously Democratic seat in 2022. Lawler spoke out against the co-sponsor of Greene’s motion to vacate, U.S. Rep. Tim Massie (R-KY), along with two other House Republicans who are working to block the Ukraine aid bill via their powerful seats on the Rules Committee.

U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), a former Navy pilot, blasted Congresswoman Greene.

RELATED: ‘They Want Russia to Win So Badly’: GOP Congressman Blasts Far-Right House Republicans

“Time is of the essence” for Ukraine, Rep. Sherrill told CNN Wednesday night. “The least we can do is support our Democratic allies, especially given what we know Putin to do. To watch a report and to think there are people like Marjorie Taylor Greene on the right that are pro-Putin? That are pro-Russia? It is really shocking.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), as NCRM reported Thursday, had denounced Greene.

“I guess their reasoning is they want Russia to win so badly that they want to oust the Speaker over it,” he said, referring to the Ukraine aid bill Greene and her cohorts want to tank. “I mean that’s a strange position to take.”

The far-right hardliners are also causing chaos in the House.

“Things just got very heated on the House floor,” NBC News’ Julie Tsirkin reported earlier Thursday. “Group of hardliners were trying to pressure Johnson to only put Israel aid on the floor and hold Ukraine aid until the Senate passed HR2.”

HR2 is the House Republicans’ extremist anti-immigrant legislation that has n o chance of passage in the Senate nor would it be signed into law by President Biden.

“Johnson said he couldn’t do it, and [U.S. Rep. Derrick] Van Orden,” a far-right Republican from Wisconsin “called him ‘tubby’ and vowed to bring on the MTV [Motion to Vacate.]”

“No one in the group (Gaetz, Boebert, Burchett, Higgins, Donalds et al.) were threatening Johnson with an MTV,” Tsirkin added. “Van Orden seemed to escalate things dramatically…”

Despite Greene’s pro-Putin and anti-Ukraine positions, her falsehoods about “Ukrainian Nazis,” and Russians not slaughtering Ukrainian clergy, reporters continue to “swarm”:

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Afraid and Intimidated’: Trump Trial Juror Targeted by Fox News Dismissed

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‘They Want Russia to Win So Badly’: GOP Congressman Blasts Far-Right House Republicans

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A sitting Republican Congressman is harshly criticizing far-right House Republicans over their apparent support of Russia.

“I guess their reasoning is they want Russia to win so badly that they want to oust the Speaker over it. I mean that’s a strange position to take,” U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a three-term Texas Republican rated a hard-core conservative told CNN’s Manu Raju, in video posted Thursday. “I think they want to be in the minority too. I think that’s an obvious reality.”

Congressman Crenshaw was referring to the movement led by U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), now joined by U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), over the Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson’s decision to finally put legislation on the floor to provide funding to Ukraine to support that sovereign nation in its fight against Russia.

“I’m still trying to process all the b*llsh*t,” Crenshaw added.

Crenshaw on Thursday also commented on Speaker Johnson’s remarks, stating he will hold the Ukraine funding vote regardless of attempts to oust him over it.

“To be clear, he’s being threatened for even allowing a vote to come to the floor. For allowing the constitutional process to play out as intended by our Founders. That’s a wild thing to consider, especially when his enemies consider themselves ‘conservative.’ Not conserving the painstaking constitutional process our Founders created, that’s for sure. Conserving Putin’s gains on the battlefield, more like it.”

Journalist Brian Beutler, a former editor-in-chief at Crooked Media, called it, “darkly funny to me that a pincer movement of MAGAns and leftists mock liberals for claiming the GOP works hand in glove with Russia, and then multiple conservative Republican dissenters are like ‘no it’s true, we’re lousy with Russian influence.'”

Watch Crenshaw’s remarks below or at this link.

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene, ‘Putin’s Envoy’? Democrat’s Bills Mock Republican’s Actions

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‘Afraid and Intimidated’: Trump Trial Juror Targeted by Fox News Dismissed

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One of seven jurors selected to serve on the New York criminal trial of Donald Trump has been dismissed after telling the judge she became concerned about her ability to remain impartial. That concern came after too many identifying details about potential jurors this week were reported by the press, leading the judge to admonish the media Thursday morning.

“Although the jurors’ names are being kept confidential, the woman, a nurse, ‘conveyed that after sleeping on it overnight she had concerns about her ability to be fair and impartial in this case,’ New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan said before calling her into the room for questioning,” the Associated Press reports. “The woman said her family members and friends were questioning her about being a juror.”

Judge Merchan, after he had questioned the juror, chastised the media, specifically directing reporters to “abide by common sense” and not report jurors’ identifying information, as some in the press had done as soon as jury selection began.

“As evidenced by what’s happened already, it’s become a problem,” Judge Merchan said.

“We just lost what probably would have been a very good juror,” he noted. “She said she was afraid and intimidated by the press, all the press.”

RELATED: ‘Big Journalism Fail’: Mainstream Media Blasted Over Coverage of Historic Trump Trial

Alexander Panetta of Canada’s CBC News adds, “Merchan wants changes in the juror info that gets out to the public. He says jurors’ employer name will be redacted from court records.”

But he also reports the now-excused juror “says family and friends [said] that she had been easy to identify, based on publicly available info about her from the court. She said she definitely has concerns now.”

Merchan also “lamented that media reported another juror has an Irish accent. He asked media in the room to be more careful.”

Responding to the loss of the juror, The Atlantic’s David Drum remarked, “[Trump] juror intimidation gets results.”

The dismissed juror had been targeted by Fox News’ Jesse Watters on Tuesday (video below).

“I’m not so sure about Juror No. 2,” Watters told Fox News views.

Trump on Wednesday, appearing to violate his gag order, had targeted the jurors.

READ MORE: ‘Stop Bringing Up Nazis and Hitler’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Smacked Down by Democrats

Former state and federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski, the editor-in-chief of MeidasTouch Network, commented, “Fox & Trump are coordinating to intimidate jurors.”

Mediate reported, “Donald Trump appeared to violate the gag order set forth by Judge Juan Merchan.”

“On Wednesday, Trump took to Truth Social and quoted comments made about potential jurors by Fox News host Jesse Watters on The Five Wednesday night.”

Trump quoted Watters, posting: “They are catching undercover Liberal Activists lying to the Judge in order to get on the Trump Jury.”

“That post appears to be in direct violation of Merchan’s gag order, a reality highlighted by JustSecurity’s Ryan Goodman,” Mediate added.

On Wednesday Watters had gone even further and presented biographical and identifying details of all seven jurors. That video is currently at the top of a pinned post on the Fox News website.

READ MORE: Fox Personality’s Tweet Called ‘Jury Tampering’ by US Congressman

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