‘This Detail Is Huge’: Matt Gaetz’s Venmo Receipts Are Just the Tip of the Iceberg
On Thursday, following reports that the Florida tax official at the heart of the sex trafficking investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is negotiating a plea, and the revelations that Gaetz used Venmo to send $900 to that official who passed it along to three teenage girls, Daily Beast reporter Jose Pagliery walked through the implications on MSNBC.
“So in all of this, what we’ve heard is that there’s a federal investigation that extends to the congressman, right?” said Pagliery. “Key to that would be any evidence of payments that would have been made from that congressman to his friend, this tax collector in Florida. Now, what we have gotten ahold of at the Daily Beast are proof of Venmo payments that Matt Gaetz did way back in 2018 — and it’s worth telling the story. Overnight, late at night, the congressman sends two separate payments via Venmo to his friend. The first one is titled ‘test.’ The second one says ‘hit up,’ and it names a person we’ve now determined is a teenage girl.”
“This is pivotal because hours later, as we reported, Joel Greenberg turned around and made three payments totalling $900 to three women,” continued Pagliery. “This detail is huge. What we were able to find is one of those young women is now a porn star. We have not revealed her name because she was so young at the time. But what my colleague and I have been able to do is get ahold of financial payments that directly tie Matt Gaetz to Joel Greenberg, and very quickly turn around and have girls’ names on them.”
“Okay. So there’s a bunch of stuff here,” said anchor Chris Hayes. “Let me just sort of take them in turn. Obviously under the law it is illegal to pay for sex. Matt Gaetz says he has never paid for sex, right? But it doesn’t get you out of legal jeopardy if your buddy pays for sex and then you pay your buddy the same amount.”
“That’s right,” said Pagliery. “That’s part of a conspiracy. Now, what we have here, and it is worth going through the detail. We got hold of Venmo payments. As anybody who uses Venmo knows, when you pay anyone anything, you have to explain what that thing is for. We have to ask, why would a sitting congressman be making two payments, one of which says to hit up, it says ‘hit up’ and it mentions a girl’s name, a name that hours later receives money from that same person who got that money. And so that’s what we got here. We got Venmo transactions that definitively tie him to them. We have more coming because we don’t just have these financial transactions.”
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‘Big Shoe Drops’: Bad Day for Trump on Multiple Fronts in Special Counsel’s Grand Jury Probes
Judge Nixes Trump’s ‘Executive Privilege’ Claim, Orders Mark Meadows, Stephen Miller, Other Top Aides to Testify as Corcoran Completes Grand Jury Appearance
It’s a bad day behind the scenes for Donald Trump.
First, his own attorney, Evan Corcoran, just past noon on Friday walked out of a federal court building after completing more than three hours of testimony before Special Counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury investigating the ex-president’s unlawful retention and refusal to return hundreds of sensitive, classified, and top secret documents.
NOW: Trump attorney Evan Corcoran departs DC federal court house after testifying before a special cousnel grand jury for what appears to have been more than 3 hours. pic.twitter.com/LQN91gKDGo
— Rob Legare (@RobLegare) March 24, 2023
His testimony, compelled by a subpoena, is seen by a former top DOJ official as “the most critical evidence in the case,” and should “allow DOJ to make a charging decision without significant delay.”
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Prosecutors, citing the crime-fraud exception, were able to convince a federal judge that Trump likely committed a crime via his attorneys, enabling them to bypass attorney-client privilege.
Trump had strived to block Corcoran from testifying, but a federal judge and an appeals court, in an extraordinarily quick turnaround – some legal experts saying for reasons likely related to national security – ordered him to testify.
Also Friday, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell rejected Trump’s claims of executive privilege and ordered testimony before Special Counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury investigating Trump’s actions related to the January 6 insurrection from eight former top Trump White House aides.
Among them, Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Senior Advisor to the President Stephen Miller, and former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. Also, former national security adviser Robert O’Brien and former deputy chief of staff and social media director Dan Scavino, ABC News reports.
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Meadows is a former GOP congressman seen by many as integral to the events of January 6.
“Former Trump aides Nick Luna and John McEntee, along with former top DHS official Ken Cuccinelli, were also included in the order, the sources said,” according to ABC News.
Former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman weighed in, saying: “Another really big shoe drops: [Judge] Howell rejects Trump’s executive privilege claim and orders Mark Meadows and others to testify before Jan 6 [grand jury]. Meadows has really been able to stay on the sidelines. No more–even if he takes the 5th, which [would] then force [question] of immunity.”
Image of Donald Trump via Shutterstock
‘Officially on Georgia-Watch’: Legal Expert Says Possible Trump Probe Indictments Could Come at Any Time
Professor of Law Joyce Vance says, “We’re officially on Georgia-watch,” now that a new grand jury has been constituted and could hand down indictments at any time in that state’s investigation into Donald Trump and his allies and their alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
Vance, the well-known MSNBC legal contributor, podcaster, and former U.S. Attorney says in her Substack newsletter, “it’s entirely possible that this could be the week to expect the world to turn upside down.”
“The first signal we’ll probably get—you’ll be in a crowded restaurant, or at work, or on a train, or in the gym, and suddenly everyone’s phone will start blowing up all at once,” Vance explains. “Reporters tend to stalk the clerk of court’s office in person and online when they know a big case is close. We’re in that sweet spot, although it’s important to keep in mind that we could remain there for awhile.”
Vance does warn that “it’s not certain that anyone, let alone Donald Trump, will be indicted. But Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, certainly seems to be giving off all the signals that she means business here.”
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Assuming Trump does get indicted, what are the possible charges he might be facing?
“First up, election-related crimes: solicitation to commit election fraud, intentional interference with performance of election duties, interference with primaries and elections, and conspiracy to commit election fraud,” she explains. There could also be more “general crimes,” like “making false statements, improperly influencing witnesses, forgery, and general criminal solicitation.”
It might also get even more serious for Trump.
“Georgia’s state RICO statute could also be charged: RICO stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and originally referred to a federal law passed in 1970 to strengthen the tools and charges available to federal prosecutors for dealing with the unlawful activities of those engaged in organized crime—Mafia or other entities devoted to organized, ongoing, serious criminal conduct.”
As Vance points out, while it’s unknown if Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis will choose to indict Trump or anyone, the special grand jury foreperson who made headlines earlier this month made clear they had recommended multiple indictments.
Image: Official White House photo
‘Next Chapter?’ Manhattan DA Signals Trump Himself Might Finally Land Under Indictment
Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg may finally have changed his mind about indicting former president Donald Trump.
The recent conviction of the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg gave a glimpse of evidence that could tie the ex-president directly to the tax fraud scheme, such as a memo he signed approving chief operating officer Matthew Calamari’s illegal request to reduce his taxed salary to cover the cost of his untaxed corporate apartment, reported The Daily Beast.
“We now move on to the next chapter,” Bragg said last week after the company was ordered to pay $1.6 million in penalties for tax fraud.
Trump already asserted under oath in another case in 2021 that he personally oversaw Calimari’s compensation, and prosecutors have checks he signed to cover tuition at a private school for Weisselberg’s grandchildren, whose mother Jennifer Weisselberg has repeatedly told investigators she personally heard Trump discuss the scheme to artificially lower taxed salaries for his executives.
“This case has tentacles,” said Duncan Levin, a former prosecutor who now represents Jennifer Weisselberg and has been communicating with investigators.
The district attorney’s office declined to comment on what Bragg meant about another chapter, but former prosecutors from that office say their experience leads them to believe prosecutors will go after Trump.
“For people who want a certain outcome — to go after Trump — it gives hope,” said Catherine A. Christian, a former assistant district attorney who investigated financial fraud. “They’re going to be thorough. I’m doubtful he would have said ‘next chapter’ if they weren’t looking.”
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“It happens all the time with large, complex investigations,” she added.
Prosecutors had hoped to flip Weisselberg or company controller Jeffrey McConney, who was nearly labeled a hostile witness during the Trump Organization trial, but ultimately were unable to get their full cooperation.
“They didn’t flip, and they failed,” said former Manhattan prosecutor Jeff Chabrowe. “They tried to do everything they could, and in the end, they got a truncated thing here where they went after the organization and Weisselberg, and there’s this fine that’s pretty weak.”
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