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Tag: matt gaetz investigation

Under Trafficking Probe, Gaetz Likens FBI To ‘Worst Days Of Soviet Union’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) compared efforts by the FBI to combat violent extremism to actions taken by the former Soviet Union, which he called a "repressive security state."

Gaetz appeared on the conservative Newsmax TV's Cortes & Pellegrino to discuss a recent tweet that was released by the FBI.

In the July 11 tweet, the FBI wrote, "family members and peers are often best positioned to witness signs of mobilization to violence" and gives advice on signs to look out for to "prevent homegrown violent extremism."

Gaetz criticized the tone of the tweet.

"This harkens to a darker day," said Gaetz. "Back during the worst days of the Soviet Union, 1 out of every 3 of the folks in that country was providing some sort of information to a centralized governing authority and so snitching really is a tool of the repressive security state."

Gaetz also claimed later in the interview that the tweet wasn't "really a sincere attempt to engage in law enforcement" and "is an attempt to identify people based on their politics."

Despite Gaetz's allegations, neither the FBI's tweet nor the document the tweet links to suggests reporting people over their political beliefs.

The agency is currently in the midst of a massive investigation of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, when several violent extremists supporting former President Donald Trump breached the building in an attempt to overturn Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election. Over 500 people have been arrested and charged with federal offenses.

In recent months, Gaetz has repeatedly attacked the FBI. Along with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), he has even pushed a baseless claim that the agency organized the Capitol attack. He has also suggested that the FBI was to blame for the COVID-19 viral outbreak.

Gaetz's attack on the FBI comes at the same time that he has been under federal investigation relating to the possible sex trafficking of an underage girl.

Gaetz has not been alone in attacking the FBI for investigating violent extremism. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TX) recently described the tweet in question from the FBI as "over the top."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Gaetz Probe Intensifies With Scrutiny Of ‘Central Florida Political Scene’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Amid the federal investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), prosecutors have also focused their attention on the Central Florida political scene. Since investigators gained the cooperation of Gaetz's ally, former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, they have reportedly been able to accelerate their probe, according to ABC News.

In May, Greenberg entered a guilty plea on six out of 33 charges including stalking, sex trafficking, wire fraud, identity theft, and conspiracy to bribe a public official. As part of his plea deal, there is speculation he could provide prosecutors with evidence and testimony that could compromise the Florida lawmaker.

In addition to interviewing a number of women who met Gaetz through Greenberg, investigators have also issued a new round of subpoenas and target letters. The investigation has also led to a probe into the political scene; one that Gaetz and Greenberg are very familiar with.

Per ABC News:

"Another avenue investigators have been focusing on recently, according to sources, are contracts that Greenberg handed out through the tax office totaling more than $1.5 million, which an independent audit late last year described as "unnecessary" and "considered to be a waste of taxpayer dollars," according to documents in the forensic audit of the tax office obtained by ABC News through a public records request."

So what could come of Greenberg's testimony and the political probe? Greenberg's lawyer, Fritz Schiller, hinted at the possibility of his client's cooperation signaling trouble for other politicians.

"Does my client have information that could hurt an elected official?" Schiller said. "I guess this is must-see television. You'll just have to wait and see."

The publication also shed light on another clue that could suggest there is trouble ahead for Gaetz. Earlier that day, an aircraft flying a banner that read," "Tick Tock Matt Gaetz" was also seen flying above the Orlando, Florida, federal courthouse.

Federal Agents Seized Smartphones Owned By Gaetz And Girlfriend

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Federal agents investigating Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz for possibly underaged sex trafficking and for a possible sexual relationship with an underaged girl were able to get a federal judge to sign off on a search warrant and execute that warrant, seizing his iPhone late last year.

"Gaetz's predicament as the subject of a serious investigation became clearer this winter when federal agents executed a search warrant and seized his iPhone, Politico reports, "according to interviews with three people who were told of the matter by Gaetz, who changed his phone number in late December."

"Around that time, the sources said, federal agents also seized his former girlfriend's phone before she went into work at a state agency in the morning. She declined comment."

It may not be unprecedented but it is extremely unusual for a sitting member of Congress to be served with a search warrant for a highly sensitive item like a cell phone.

Politico also details Gaetz's 2018 trip to the Bahamas, where he "was joined by two GOP allies: Halsey Beshears, then a state legislator, and Jason Pirozzolo, a hand surgeon and Republican fundraiser for DeSantis, according to three sources, including one who was part of the group."

"Also among those on the trip: the former minor who is key to the investigation, whose presence on the trip was previously unreported. According to one of the women in the group who spoke on condition of anonymity, everyone on the trip was over the age of 18 — including the woman in question, who had turned 18 years old months before the trip, she said."

"No one on the trip engaged in prostitution, the source said," Politico adds.

Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and as previously reported has obtained two high-powered attorneys.

#EndorseThis: Seth Meyers Smirks As Gaetz 'Snubbed' By His 'Idol' Trump

As the investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz's heinous career continues, more and more of his former allies can't stomach -- or just don't want to be associated-- with the Florida Congressman. The latest indignity: Gaetz has been "snubbed" by the former guy, his "political idol."

Seth Meyers takes "A Closer Look," dishing out too many Trump and Gaetz burns to count.

Meyers was at the top of his game. Check it out!

MAGA Congressman Matt Gaetz Snubbed by Trump Amid Growing Scandals: A Closer Look www.youtube.com

Report: Chat Logs Show Greenberg ‘In A Panic’ Over FBI Investigation

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Unlike his ally Joel Greenberg — the Florida county tax collector who is facing federal sex trafficking charges — Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida hasn't yet been charged with federal crimes. Gaetz has vehemently denied suggestions that he was sexually involved with a 17-year-old girl, but that possibility is reported to be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice. And a WhatsApp chat from August 14, 2020 that Politico has obtained information on sheds some light on the charges that Greenberg is facing.

According to Politico reporters Marc Caputo, Josh Gerstein, and Matt Dixon, Greenberg was part of that WhatsApp chat along with a Republican ally and was "in a panic" because he knew that "the feds were closing in."

"The Florida county tax collector was five days away from a federal indictment for sex trafficking involving a 17-year-old — the same one Gaetz is now being investigated over," the Politico reporters explain. "So, Greenberg reached out to mutual friends on August 14 last year and tried to enlist them in his defense, according to a WhatsApp chat shared with federal investigators and obtained by Politico."

In those WhatsApp messages, according to Caputo, Gerstein, and Dixon, Greenberg "fumed that the prosecutor should be fired. He suspected that a political consultant 'was the rat here'…. Greenberg also said he was paying the legal fees for the woman, who is now 20 years old."

Greenberg, the reporters note, "even went so far as to push Gaetz to use his influence with" then-President Donald Trump "for a pardon, according to two sources familiar with the discussions — including one who heard Greenberg say it repeatedly."

But Gaetz, according to Caputo, Gerstein and Dixon, has said that he didn't ask Trump to pardon Greenberg.

In that August 14, 2020 WhatsApp chat, Greenberg communicated with a Republican who the Politico reporters describe as "politically influential" and a "mutual friend" of Greenberg and Gaetz. That person discussed the chat with Politico, saying that Greenberg referred to the 17-year-old girl — who is an adult now — as "Vintage 99" during the chat.

Greenberg wrote, "I'm having to pay for vintage 99 to retain (a) lawyer. They (federal agents) contacted her and are wanting her to talk. She doesn't want to talk to them."

Caputo, Gerstein and Dixon note that "Vintage 99" does not want to talk to the media either, adding, "She blocked a Politico reporter on social media and her iPhone after she was called and texted to discuss the case Monday. Her attorney couldn't be reached. Politico is withholding her name because she is the alleged victim of a sex crime."

Gaetz Vows He’s ‘Absolutely Not Resigning’ Despite GOP Pressure

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

As the scandal around Rep. Matt Gaetz grows, the Florida Republican Congressman is trying to push back, with a former staffer holding a press event during which he admits he has no evidence that Gaetz is innocent -- and Gaetz himself publishing an op-ed in a right wing media outlet promising to not resign.

"I am absolutely not resigning," Gaetz says in the Washington Examiner, insisting the calls for him to call it quits are hypocritical and pushback because he "decided to take on the most powerful institutions in the Beltway."

He insists he's not guilty of a few very specific allegations: "I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old."

And in very typical MAGA mode, Gaetz told his supporters, "They aren't coming for me — they are coming for you. I'm just in the way."

Meanwhile, in a curious twist, Republican leadership has announced they will call for Gaetz to resign, but only if he's indicted, and they won't wait for Democrats to demand he step down, MSNBC's Kyle Griffin says, citing Punchbowl News.Democrats are putting pressure on Gaetz and the Republican leadership.

"If in fact these allegations are true, of course being removed from the Judiciary Committee is the least that could be done," Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters late last week, the AP reports, noting that "Pelosi's comments fell short of the swift removal from the Judiciary Committee sought by at least one Democratic lawmaker."

The Speaker added: "From what we've heard so far, this would be a matter for the Ethics Committee."

And Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California last week tweeted to House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, "You don't seem to get it. If it's true Rep Matt Gaetz engaged in sex trafficking, he needs to resign and be prosecuted. In the meantime, you can't have Gaetz sitting on the Congressional Committee that has oversight over the Department that is investigating him."

Gaetz Boasted Of ‘Access’ To Woman Via Alleged Sex Trafficker

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has reportedly been very vocal about his alleged ties to the former Florida tax collector currently facing federal charges for alleged sex trafficking.

According to The Washington Post, the Florida lawmaker is said to have boasted about having access to women through former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg. Two insiders familiar with the situation have shared details about the lawmaker's claims and how he reportedly had no qualms about discussing his alleged relationships.

"Matt was never shy about talking about his relationship to Joel and the access to women that Joel provided him," said one of the insiders who requested anonymity. "What these videos implied was that there was something of a sexual nature going on with everyone."

Greenberg is currently facing a child sex trafficking charge in addition to a number of other charges. While Gaetz has not been charged, investigators are reportedly exploring a number of possibilities where the lawmaker is concerned. Gaetz is also "suspected of patronizing websites that allow men to set up dates with women in exchange for dinners or hotel stays, a person familiar with the matter said. It is not a crime to use such services unless money is exchanged explicitly for sex."

Another insider familiar with the scandal has also noted that investigators "are exploring allegations that Gaetz and others used illegal drugs during some of their encounters with women."

In addition to this claim, Gaetz allegedly showed nude photos and videos of women to other lawmakers on the House floor, as previously reported by Alternet. At the time, CNN also reported that one of the video clips featured a naked woman standing with a hula hoop.

The latest report comes just days after Gaetz denied the allegations against him. On Friday, the Post contacted the Republican lawmaker for comment about the claims alleging that he bragged about meeting women through Greenberg. In a message sent via text message, Gaetz responded with a denial of all the allegations.

"I have never paid for sex. I have never had sex with an underage person as an adult," Gaetz wrote. "I have dated women in college and graduate school, and have boasted about how great they are across the board, as boyfriends do. At times women I have dated have joined me at campaign events."

Fox News Went 30 Hours Without Mentioning Gaetz Scandal

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

In an extraordinary attempt at GOP damage control, Fox News failed to make any mention, for more than an entire day, of the exploding sex trafficking scandal that's engulfing Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a close ally of the network. Opting instead for a total blackout, Fox News tried and failed to quell the raging controversy, which on Thursday night hit new heights with another round of explosive revelations.

But at Fox News, it's Gaetz who?

According to TVeyes, the 24-hour cable news monitoring service, Fox News mentioned "Matt Gaetz" just 17 times all day Wednesday and all day Thursday of last week. In fact, the network aired zero mentions of Gaetz on Thursday, and the final mention of him came Wednesday at 6:22 pm. That means for more than 30 hours, Fox News didn't reference the Congressman a single time. During that same period, CNN mentioned Gaetz 70 times, MSNBC more than 80 times.

Suffice it to say that if a prominent Democrat found him or herself at the center of a scandal as lurid as Gaetz's, who's under investigation in a federal sex trafficking probe involving a 17-year-old girl, Fox News would have hyped the story hundreds of times during the week. Fox News would have been in nonstop scandal mode demanding answers, pressing for Congressional inquiries, and denouncing the moral bankruptcy of the Democratic Party.

But with one of its closest allies under federal fire, the best Fox News can do is pretend nothing is happening. Instead of opting for covering the story lightly, Fox News went straight to banning it.

Obviously an attempt to erase a story as big and breaking as the Gaetz scandal doesn't happen by accident. We're witnessing a deliberate, top-down attempt by Fox News to unplug an important political story simply because the man at the center is a Republican and a vociferous Trump loyalist who loudly claimed the 2020 election had been stolen. In fact, Gaetz owes his career to Fox News and the hundreds of appearances he's made on the network in recent years.

"His combination of bottomless self-confidence and a rich kid-honed skill at being a remorseless bully turned him into an aspirational figure for the Fox News audience, a role model for the trigger-the-liberals crowd," Salon's Amanda Marcotte noted this week. Suddenly though, the network doesn't want to say his name.

The blackout isn't working as the Gaetz scandal continues to gain momentum with each new blockbuster revelation. Two jaw-dropping reports came late Friday.

From the New York Times:

A Justice Department investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz and an indicted Florida politician is focusing on their involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments, according to people close to the investigation and text messages and payment receipts reviewed by The New York Times.

From CNN:

Gaetz allegedly showed off to other lawmakers photos and videos of nude women he said he had slept with, the sources told CNN, including while on the House floor. The sources, including two people directly shown the material, said Gaetz displayed the images of women on his phone and talked about having sex with them. One of the videos showed a naked woman with a hula hoop, according to one source.

This is, hands down, the most shocking scandal involving a sitting member of Congress in at least a decade. But Fox News remains on the sidelines, too nervous to cover the story.

Rupert Murdoch's Republican propaganda outlet likely knew it had a major problem on its hands with the Gaetz story when he appeared on Tucker Carlson's show last Tuesday night just as the scandal was breaking, and seemed to try to drag the host into the swamp.

"You and I went to dinner about two years ago, your wife was there, and I brought a friend of mine, you'll remember her," Gaetz said. Carlson, reportedly "pissed" about the interview, quickly denied remembering any such female friend and acted confused. He later told viewers the Gaetz segment was one of the "weirdest" interviews he had ever done.

And now Fox News is trying to flush the whole sordid story down the memory hole. But it's not going to work. The Republican bottom feeder, who has been groomed for right-wing stardom by Fox News, where his obnoxious and ignorant antics were celebrated, is now facing his time in the barrel.