Legal experts, including former federal prosecutors, appear in agreement that U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is likely to be facing a good deal of trouble from the Dept. of Justice after an NBC News report reveals his ex-girlfriend testified before a grand jury in his ongoing sex trafficking probe Wednesday and is in talks for an immunity deal.
NBC News’ Marc Caputo reports this is “a major development that suggests the Department of Justice may be moving closer to indicting him.”
Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend “has been in talks for months with prosecutors about an immunity deal. Under a possible deal, she would avoid prosecution for obstruction of justice in return for testifying in the investigation into whether Gaetz in 2017 had sex with a 17-year-old female for money and whether months later he and others violated a federal law prohibiting people for paying for prostitutes overseas.”
Based on the NBC News report legal experts are saying it’s likely time is running out for Gaetz.
“Significant,” says former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi, now an NBC News National Security Contributor. “Expect some public drama from Gaetz,” he warns.
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, the well-known NBC News/MSNBC legal analyst and law professor adds, “Matt Gaetz seems to be moving closer to being indicted-locking in the girlfriend’s testimony under oath before the grand jury is a critical step.”
Another former U.S. Attorney, Harry Litman, says “given what we know from [Gaetz’s] buddy [Joel] Greenberg about his MO,” the Florida Congressman’s ex-girlfriend “could provide very damning testimony.”
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti is even more definitive.
“Prosecutors would not ‘lock in’ Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend’s testimony before the grand jury unless they were getting close to wrapping up their investigation and expected that investigation to result in an indictment,” Mariotti explains. Asked his estimation for an “ETA,” he responds:
I don’t know for sure. But prosecutors don’t want to have witnesses lock in their testimony if they’re still gathering other evidence. They want to make sure they can use all the evidence to refresh the witness’s memory in order to minimize inconsistencies or mistakes.
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) January 12, 2022
Attorney Aaron Parnas appears more convinced things are moving quickly: “This shows me that the timeline for indictment has likely sped up.”
Meanwhile, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen took something of a victory lap on reading the news:
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) January 12, 2022
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In Trump’s ‘Special Master’ Appeal 2 of 3 Judges Are Ones He Appointed – and Both Previously Ruled Against Him
Last month a three-judge panel overruled a federal judge Donald Trump not only appointed to the bench but hand-picked to hear his case surrounding the Dept. of Justice executing a search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago resort and residence and retrieving thousands of White House items and documents, including hundreds of classified and top secret documents.
Trump has appealed their ruling, and on Tuesday a three-judge panel at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals was selected to hear his case.
Two of the three he appointed. Both have previously ruled against him.
The judges, according to Politico’s Josh Gerstein, are William Pryor Jr. (Bush 43 appointee), Britt Grant (Trump appointee), and Andrew Brasher (Trump appointee.).
“BUT,” Gerstein stresses, “Grant & Brasher joined in earlier ruling against him on MAL,” referring to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago case against the United States of America in which he both claims he is the rightful owner of the documents because they are personal, and he declassified them all. (Both claims cannot be true.)
As The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell puts it, “Really unfortunate for Trump to have drawn 2/3 judges for oral arguments before 11th Circuit today who ruled that Cannon ‘abused her discretion’ in granting him a special master.”
Back in September a three-judge 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel temporarily blocked Judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling barring the Dept. of Justice from using about 100 classified documents. Trump had requested the court block DOJ from accessing those documents.
“We cannot discern why plaintiff [Trump] would have an individual interest in or need for any of the one-hundred documents with classification markings,” the three-judge panel said, as Bloomberg News had reported.
As Bloomberg’s Zoe Tillman reports, in today’s trial, which begins at 2 PM ET, DOJ will argue “to free thousands of documents seized from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate from a review that’s kept them out of investigators’ hands for months.”
For those interested, oral arguments can be heard via the 11th Circuit’s government website, here.
Image via Shutterstock
Hate Crime and Murder Charges Filed Against Club Q Suspect in Anti-LGBTQ Mass Shooting
Colorado prosecutors have filed hate crime and murder charges against the suspect in Saturday night’s anti-LGBTQ mass shooting. Five people, including employees of the LGBTQ nightclub Club Q were killed, another 25 were injured. The suspect is believed to have used an AR-15 style rifle.
“Colorado court records show that Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, was charged with five counts of murder and five counts of bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury. A Colorado judge granted prosecutors’ request to seal court records related to Mr. Aldrich’s arrest until the conclusion of the investigation,” The New York Times reports.
Patrons bravely were able to subdue the suspect, hitting him with his own gun. Police arrived minutes after the first 911 call. The suspect was hospitalized and is in custody.
MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner says prosecutors have responded quickly with the bias crime charge.
“Members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community in and around Colorado Springs said Club Q had felt like a haven in a conservative city long known for anti-gay activism,” The Times adds.
“This club was a refuge for our community,” Bird Berg, 31, a produce manager at a grocery store who attended a vigil with her wife, said. “I’m completely devastated.”
Two patrons are beg hailed as heroes after disabling the suspected shooter.
“One customer took down the gunman and was assisted by another,” Matthew Haynes, one of the club owners, The Times reports separately. “He saved dozens and dozens of lives. Stopped the man cold. Everyone else was running away, and he ran toward him.”
CNN reports investigators have yet to identify the suspect’s motive. Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez says the suspect “has determined not to speak to investigators.”
Aldrich, CNN adds, “was arrested in June 2021 in connection with a bomb threat which led to a standoff at his mother’s home, according to a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at the time and his mother’s former landlord. Colorado Springs is in El Paso County.”
No charges were filed in that case.
Chief Vasquez spoke with CBS Mornings earlier today. Watch video below or at this link.
Mass Shooting Suspect Was Subdued by Patrons at Colorado LGBTQ Club Where 5 People Were Killed: Police
A man entered the LGBTQ nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, just minutes before midnight on Saturday and “immediately” began shooting before patrons bravely intervened to subdue him, police said at a Sunday morning press conference. Five people were killed and at least 18 people were injured. It was the 601st mass shooting in America this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
FBI agents are already on scene, as is the U.S. Attorney for Colorado, Cole Finegan, who appeared at Sunday morning’s press conference promising “the person who did this” will be “brought to justice.”
District Attorney Michael Allen identified the suspect as Anderson Lee Aldrich, who is hospitalized but in custody, CNN reports. A police spokesperson reported the first 911 call came in at 11:56 PM local time, and within minutes police were on the scene at Club Q, and handcuffed the suspect within two minutes of arriving.
Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said they have not yet determined if the attack on the LGBTQ club was a hate crime, but did say two guns, including a long gun, were found on the scene.
An FBI agent said the mass shooting was being investigated through the “lens” of a possible hate crime.
Club Q was to host a drag queen Sunday brunch and observe Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is today. TDOR honors and memorializes transgender people who have been murdered in transphobic attacks.
“Let’s prep for a fantastic Sunday Funday!” the Club wrote on its Facebook page. Sunday evening the club was to have “an all stars cast of our freshest faces!” and said, “We’re celebrating Transgender Day of Remembrance with a variety of gender identities and performance styles!”
After the attack, on their Facebook page Club Q wrote they are “devastated by the senseless attack on our community. Our prays and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends. We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”
Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who is currently in COVID quarantine issued a statement saying, “The Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs was horrific, sickening, and devastating news to wake up to. My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatized in this horrific shooting. I have spoken with Mayor Suthers and clarified that every state resource is available to local law enforcement in Colorado Springs. We are eternally grateful for the brave individuals who blocked the gunman, likely saving lives in the process, and for the first responders who responded swiftly to this horrific shooting. Colorado stands with our LGTBQ Community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn.”
Researcher and political scientist Jay Ulfelder noted Sunday, “Since early 2021, the right has increasingly mobilized against the queer community, with drag shows being a particular focal point.”
Breaking my self-imposed Twitter silence to offer some context for last night’s mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. Since early 2021, the right has increasingly mobilized against the queer community, with drag shows being a particular focal point. https://t.co/D16Js24co4 pic.twitter.com/8to96lD4CT
— Jay Ulfelder (@JayUlfelder) November 20, 2022
Just hours after the mass shooting the anti-LGBTQ right-wing extremist social media account Libs of TikTok tweeted a post about a Colorado Springs organization that it says “teaches kids how to become drag queens and helps kids ‘safely experience the art of drag on stage.'”
In June the Twitter account of Libs of TikTok was temporarily “locked” over a thread attacking drag shows that allow children, claiming they “sexualize children.”
In August NPR reported that Libs of TikTok has “gained prominence and influence in right-wing circles over the last year as conservatives increasingly try to use anti-LGBTQ sentiment to gain support.”
Democratic lawmakers across the country and other public figures are speaking out and offering condolences in the wake of the mass shooting.
Sickened and horrified by the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
The LGBTQ+ community is once again the target of the most terrible violence.
And devastating attacks like these will only become more common if we don’t fight back.
It must stop.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) November 20, 2022
Horrendous to hear about the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. An unspeakable act. We have to protect LGBTQ lives from this hate.
— Senator John Hickenlooper (@SenatorHick) November 20, 2022
Horrible & horrific shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. My heart breaks for the victims, their loved ones, & the LGBTQ+ community. This hate-fueled, tragic gun violence destroys lives & shakes communities to their core. We must do more to combat this scourge. https://t.co/TZHY1MsNpn
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) November 20, 2022
I’m horrified by the news of last night’s shooting in Colorado Springs. On Transgender Day of Remembrance, I mourn the victims and send love to the Club Q community. We must confront hate and bigotry in all its forms and act to end our country’s shameful epidemic of gun violence.
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) November 20, 2022
Devastated to hear about the horrific shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
Today, on #TransDayofRemembrance, my prayers are with the family & friends of the victims and the entire LGBTQ+ community. We must condemn hate in all its forms.
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) November 20, 2022
Waking up to news about another mass shooting — this time in my hometown of Colorado Springs. Club Q is a place of refuge for so many, including myself. I am both devastated and infuriated.
I will be there to support any of our Colorado Springs family in any way they need. https://t.co/nKTE0jUJwV
— Leslie Herod (@leslieherod) November 20, 2022
I’m devastated to learn of the gun murders at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
How sick are we of killing after killing after killing with guns in this country?! We must fight both ingredients of the toxic mix of gun violence and hatred of queer people. https://t.co/8olnQDIrKi
— Rep. Andy Levin (@RepAndyLevin) November 20, 2022
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