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Levin writes: "The Congressman is reportedly under investigation for obstruction of justice, on top of the alleged sex crimes."

Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida. (photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida. (photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

It's Not a Great Time to Be Matt Gaetz (Next Week's Not Looking Too Good Either)

By Bess Levin, Vanity Fair

08 June 21

The Congressman is reportedly under investigation for obstruction of justice, on top of the alleged sex crimes.

hen we last checked in with the legal comings and goings of Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican was under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly paying women for sex and, separately, sleeping with a minor and transporting her across state lines. Did things improve for the lawmaker in the proceeding few weeks? Not exactly! Instead, he’s now reportedly under additional DOJ investigation for obstructing justice, which the decomposing corpse of Richard Nixon can tell you means you’re screwed six ways ’til Sunday and should probably get on a helicopter headed for California (or Florida, as it were), circa now.

Politico reports that federal prosecutors are probing a call Gaetz had with a witness in his sex-crimes investigation, one of “a handful of women who entered Gaetz’s orbit via his one-time ‘wingman‘,” i.e. former tax collector Joel Greenberg, who pleaded guilty last month to an array of charges, including the sex trafficking of a minor. According to reporter Marc Caputo, an ex-girlfriend of Gaetz was speaking to a witness in his sex-crimes investigation and then, at some point during the conversation, patched the lawmaker into the call. If that sounds pretty stupid and amateur hour and something you’d think a lawyer and congressman currently under investigation would know not to do, you’re right—it was!

Per Politico:

While it’s unknown exactly what was said, the discussion on that call is central to whether prosecutors can charge Gaetz with obstructing justice, which makes it illegal to suggest that a witness in a criminal case lie or give misleading testimony. The witness later spoke with prosecutors, the sources said…. The obstruction probe is the latest development in the ongoing federal investigation into Gaetz, a top ally of former President Donald Trump who has come under increasing scrutiny due to his relationship with Greenberg—now a cooperating witness. The obstruction inquiry signals how wide a net federal prosecutors are casting to possibly ensnare the congressman.

Brian Tannebaum, a veteran federal defense attorney briefed by Politico on the investigation, said that obstruction of justice is “widely used by prosecutors in various forms” and can even ensnare witnesses who lie on the stand at trial. He said that, if authorities recorded the call involving Gaetz, prosecutors will listen for signs that he’s trying to get the woman to “get her story straight” by shading the truth. “If there’s any indication he was trying to influence her testimony, that can be obstruction,” Tannebaum said. “If it’s determined that what he said obstructed the investigation—‘did what he tell you have any influence on your testimony before the grand jury?’—it can be real problem.”

Neither the ex-girlfriend nor the witness could be reached for Politico’s request for comment. The former girlfriend is reportedly in the midst of seeking an immunity deal in exchange for cooperation, which would obviously be further bad news for Gaetz. She has apparently told friends that she believes the alleged trafficking victim may have recorded her during a separate phone call in which she may have provided incriminating evidence re: the Florida congressman.

Gaetz dated his ex-girlfriend in 2017 and 2018, but they had an open relationship that involved other women, including the one involved in the three-way call under examination from prosecutors, according to two sources familiar with the relationship. Those two women joined Gaetz and others—including Greenberg’s sex-trafficking victim after she turned 18—on a jaunt to the Bahamas in late 2018. Prosecutors are also examining that trip to see if Gaetz or others violated a federal law, the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people across state lines to engage in prostitution.

Gaetz has consistently denied paying for sex or prostitutes but has acknowledged engaging in so-called “sugar daddy” relationships with the women he met through Greenberg, who in turn found many of them on the SeekingArrangement website for men looking for relationships with younger women. But while SeekingArrangement relationships might not meet the legal definition of prostitution for a Mann Act case, experts say that the federal sex-trafficking of a minor statute has a broader definition of financial transactions. If a suspect had sex with someone under the age of 18, and if something of value changes hands, then a suspect can be charged.

In April, shortly before he pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, the Daily Beast reported that Greenberg had written a “confession” letter, in the hopes of obtaining a pardon, in which he admitted facilitating Gaetz’s interactions with a variety of women and paying them on the congressman’s behalf. Gaetz has denied any and all allegations of wrongdoing, including obstructing justice. A spokesperson for the congressman told Politico in a statement, “Congressman Gaetz pursues justice, he doesn’t obstruct it. The anonymous allegations have thus far amounted to lies, wrapped in leaks, rooted in an extortion plot by a former DOJ official. After two months, there is still not a single on-record accusation of misconduct, and now the ‘story’ is changing yet again.”

Meanwhile, as the investigation continues, Gaetz has kept busy spreading election-fraud lies and, on at least one occasion, encouraging supporters to shoot Silicon Valley executives for allegedly suppressing conservative voices. Which law enforcement should probably look into as well! your social media marketing partner
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