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Tag: gaetz scandal

Gaetz Falsely Claims He Is ‘Exonerated’ In Trafficking Case

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) seized on right-wing media reports on Wednesday to falsely suggest that he has been exonerated in a federal investigation into whether he engaged in sex trafficking of a minor. There is no indication that prosecutors have cleared him of anything.

Gaetz retweeted a One America News report titled "Rep. Matt Gaetz Exonerated, Fla. Developer Charged With Extortion." That story claimed, without any evidence, "Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has been exonerated and the Department of Justice's sex trafficking investigation has been shut down as the man who made the false allegations is now behind bars."

Gaetz also tweeted a Newsmax story about the indictment of a man in an alleged scheme to extort him with the comment "EXONERATED: Alford Indicted for Extortion Plot Against Matt Gaetz. 'It certainly shows that these claims about me were never true. They were used to try to bleed my family out of tens of millions of dollars.'"

But even the friendly Newsmax report he shared contradicts this claim: "The indictment does not clear Congressman Matt Gaetz, but it most certainly adds to his credibility. He told us there was an extortion scheme at play."

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida announced Tuesday that it has indicted Stephen Alford in a "scheme to defraud a victim out of $25 million" based on a dishonest claim that he "could deliver a Presidential Pardon for a family member of the victim."

The Justice Department did not respond to an inquiry for this story. But sources told the Washington Post that the referenced victim was Gaetz's father, former Florida state Sen. Don Gaetz, and that the pardon would have been for his son.

The Post reported that Alford and others involved in the alleged extortion scheme were unconnected to the ongoing sex-crimes investigation into Matt Gaetz; they merely knew about it before it was reported publicly.

On March 30, the New York Times first reported that Gaetz was facing a federal investigation into whether he had engaged in a sexual relationship with an underage girl and paid for her travel in a possible violation of sex trafficking laws.

A spokesperson for Gaetz did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story, but the Florida Republican has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Last month, ABC News reported that Gaetz's former "wingman," former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, had provided federal investigators records of Venmo and Cash App transactions, photos, videos, and social media communications that could implicate Gaetz.

After pleading guilty in May to charges of sex trafficking of a child and five other federal offenses, none of which to date have named Gaetz, Greenberg said he would give "substantial assistance" to the Justice Department.

So far, House Republicans have stood by Gaetz and let him keep his committee posts — including on the House Judiciary Committee — during the investigation.

"Those are serious implications," Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News in March. "If it comes out to be true, yes, we would remove him if that was the case. But right now Matt Gaetz says it is not true, and we don't have any information. So let's get all the information."

The progressive research group American Bridge 21st Century posted audio on Monday of Gaetz at an August 27 New Hampshire campaign event in which he jokes about his response to a question from tourists about "weird sexual allegations" that he and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) have in common. Gaetz says he responded, "No, that was Jordan."

Jordan has been accused by former student wrestlers at the Ohio State University of ignoring sexual abuse by a team doctor during his tenure there as an assistant coach. Jordan has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crimes.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Federal Indictment Tells True Story Behind Gaetz 'Extortion' Tale

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A new grand jury indictment released on Tuesday revealed new details surrounding the complex and sordid case of Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz.

The grand jury charged Florida man Stephen Alford, 62, of attempting to commit wire fraud and conceal evidence. Previous reporting had found that there was a federal investigation into a scheme by Alford and others to ask Gaetz's father, Don Gaetz, for $25 million to fund a rescue mission in Iran.

Rep. Gaetz had claimed that this request was part of an "extortion" attempt related to the investigation into allegations that he has been involved in child sex trafficking, corruption and other crimes. An associate of his has already agreed to plead guilty to these charges, though Gaetz denies them. When the investigation into his conduct first emerged, Gaetz tried to distract from the scandal by pointing to the "extortion" tied to Alford.

He tried to argue that the investigation of him was driven by duplicitous agents out to get him. But it turns out that the supposed "extortion" attempt wasn't quite that — at least insofar as the Justice Department sees it.

Rep. Gaetz's argument was that the plot sought to use the investigation to extort his father out of money. What the indictment indicates, however, is that the plot wasn't about extortion, just fraud. It says Alford falsely promised he could get a presidential pardon for Gaetz in exchange for money, and he used interstate wires to do it.

When I previously wrote about Gaetz's extortion allegations in April, I argued that they were not supported by the public evidence. For example, one document obtained by the Washington Examiner said that the plan was that after the Iran rescue attempt, the team will "strongly advocate that President Biden issue a Presidential Pardon, or instruct the Department of Justice to terminate any and all investigations involving Congressman Gaetz." As I argued at the time, that doesn't look like extortion. That just looks like a silly and obviously hollow promise — there's no chance President Biden would pardon Gaetz for the allegations against him or intervene in a DOJ probe to help him.

The new indictment alleges that Alford made more than hollow promises, but demonstrably false claims in an effort to obtain Gaetz family money. It claims that Alford falsely communicated to Gaetz's father (described as "D.G." in the indictment) that Biden has said he will "strongly consider" pardoning Rep. Gaetz (called "Family Member A") or ending the investigations into him. Alford also reportedly said he "will get that pardon" and that he could "guarantee" no prison time.

It also says Alford attempted to destroy or conceal evidence on an iPhone in the course of the investigation.

It's not clear how strong a case this really is against Alford. It certainly seems like a hare-brained scheme, but it's not against the law to propose a terrible idea to someone. It is a crime to lie to them in order to get their money, but Alford may argue that he was just speaking hyperbolically about his hopes for the plan rather than defrauding anyone. It may be hard to judge the allegations without additional context.

Though it probably doesn't help Alford's case that, according to the Washington Post, he has already been convicted of local and federal fraud crimes.

But what does seem clear is that — unless the DOJ comes out with another indictment — investigators didn't find substantial evidence of extortion. That's important because it undercuts the reason Gaetz was so interested in drawing attention to the Alford scheme to begin with. If the charges were being used to extort the Gaetz family, it may be reason to believe that the investigation isn't on the level and the congressman is being unfairly targeted. But that's not what the indictment suggests. Instead, it suggests that a serious investigation of Gaetz was somehow discovered by a man with a ludicrous idea, creating a spectacular but ultimately inconsequential sideshow.

Ex-Prosecutor Says Gaetz Indictment ‘Is Ready And He Will Face Charges’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A former New York State prosecutor say Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) will be prosecuted by federal authorities and insists the "indictment is ready."

Tristan Snell, who served as assistant attorney general for New York state and is now the founder and the managing partner of Main Street Law helped lead the prosecution against Trump University that resulted in a $25 million settlement.

Snell has been sharing what he says he knows, via Twitter, and on Wednesday laid out the "Gaetzgate" case as he sees it.

"What we know," Snell writes, is that the "indictment is coming in the next few weeks, either in August or just after."

"Also clear that the US Attorney's Office is taking very strong positions with Gaetz and his counsel and is ready to indict Gaetz and others," Snell claims.

"What's really going on is that the feds are applying a lot of pressure on Gaetz to flip and cooperate — if the feds are taking a strong position, it's to get cooperation," he adds. "But what would Gaetz be able to cooperate on?"

"Gaetz could cooperate on the existing case they have open in federal court in Orlando — adding to the testimony from Gaetz's buddy Joel Greenberg."

Greenberg is the former Florida tax collector who was indicted on 33 federal charges, including theft, sex trafficking of a minor, stalking, and multiple counts of fraud. As part of a plea deal in May Greenberg pleaded guilty to six counts, including sex trafficking.

Gaetz has called Greenberg his "wingman."

Meanwhile, Snell adds that "the issue with Gaetzgate is not a lack of evidence or lack of a case. It's that there's soooo much evidence – and the case has gotten way bigger."

Snell, who has appeared on CNN and other media outlets and last month penned a Washington Post op-ed on prosecuting Trump, says "the more interesting question" is "what else could Gaetz do? What other things could he cooperate on?"

"So to be clear, the issue with Gaetzgate is not *if* he will face charges. He will," Snell insists. "The questions are when and how. Does he cooperate now? Or does he plead not guilty for now? And what would cooperation look like? If they're having this discussion now, the indictment is ready."

#EndorseThis: 'People Think You’re A Pedophile,' Comic Tells Gaetz

Getting up close and personal with a congressman accused of sex trafficking minors and a congresswoman who openly touts a deranged conspiracy theory is easier than you might think. All comedian activist Walter Masterson had to do was dress head to toe in red, white and blue.

"People think you're a pedophile; I don't think you're a pedophile at all!" Masterson told Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) before being hustled away by a bodyguard.

But not before he got in a jab at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA): "Everyone thinks you're crazy; I don't think you're crazy!"

Click and cackle.

Matt Gaetz MELTS DOWN When Told He's NOT a Pedophile www.youtube.com