A federal investigation has been launched into whether Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz obstructed justice in a phone conversation he had with a witness in his investigation of sex crimes.
The witness, who has not been named, was one of the women associated with Joel Greenberg, a Seminole County tax collector and a former friend of Gaetz, who last month pleaded guilty to smuggling a 17-year-old girl. in 2017, sources told Politics.
The phone call in question was between Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend and the witness, who had reportedly been in an open relationship with the two, the outlet said.
At one point, the congressman is said to have joined the call, but it is not known what the three discussed.
Investigators are reportedly investigating whether he suggested she was lying or giving investigators misleading testimony about him.
Gaetz, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, is under investigation by the Justice Department over whether he paid for sex with a 17-year-old girl. He denies the allegations.
Prosecutors are investigating whether Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz obstructed justice when he was phoning a witness in the investigation of sex crimes against him
The 17-year-old girl was reportedly friends with both Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend and the witness who was on the phone, Politico said. The witness later spoke to the detectives.
The congressman has denied any criminal involvement with Greenberg and also obstructed justice.
Gaetz has not been charged by federal prosecutors and has always denied having sex with the underage girl and transporting her across state lines.
“Congressman Gaetz seeks justice, he does not hinder it,” a Gaetz spokesman said in a statement to Politico. The anonymous allegations so far have amounted to lies wrapped in leaks rooted in an extortion plot by a former DOJ official. After two months, there is still no allegation of wrongdoing in the file and now the ‘story’ is changing again.’
Much of the investigation into Gaetz revolves around his relationship with Greenberg, who is reportedly working with investigators and could provide information that could lead to the congressman’s indictment.
Much of the investigation into Gaetz had to do with his dealings with friend and tax collector Joel Greenberg, Seminole County. Greenberg pleaded guilty last month to sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl in 2017
Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend is also reportedly seeking an immunity deal from prosecutors, fearing she too would have obstructed justice in talks with the trafficking victim, Politico also reported.
People with knowledge of the investigation have told Politico that the ex-girlfriend could sign the immunity deal by the end of June, and that an indictment against Gaetz could come in July if prosecutors find there is sufficient evidence.
The congressman and his ex-girlfriend dated in 2017, when Greenberg’s sex trafficking took place, and in 2018, and the couple reportedly had an open relationship, including with the witness who was on the phone.
Gaetz has admitted to having so-called “sugar daddy” relationships with women offered to him by Greenberg, though the Florida representative denies ever paying a woman for sex.
The Florida age of majority is 18 years old and sexual intercourse with minors is legal rape. However, the state has a so-called Romeo and Juliet law that allows minors aged 16 or 17 to have sex with someone who is no more than 23 years old. Gaetz is 39.
His would-be wingman Greenberg pleaded guilty to charges including sex trafficking of a minor during a court hearing in a deal to partner with prosecutors, which could cause trouble for the Republican congressman.
TIMELINE OF THE GAETZ SAGA
30 MARCH: The New York Times reports that Gaetz is under investigation for a sexual relationship with an underage girl.
Details are scarce, but the relationship is said to have taken place two years ago.
Gaetz went to Tucker Carlson’s FOX News show that evening to deny the allegations and claim he was the victim of an extortion plot.
He names David McGee as a DoJ official who is extorting him. McGee denies it.
MARCH 31ST: Gaetz’s father Don tells Politico that the extortion plot is real and that he teamed up with his son and the FBI to expose it
APRIL 1ST: Texts appear to support Gaetz’s claim that he was being extorted and introduce a new element to the saga – that the extortion plot was part of a ruse to rescue American hostage Robert Levinson from Iran.
WHO IS WHO
Rep Matt Gaetz
Gaetz, 38, is the representative of Florida’s first congressional district.
He is a Trump ally with ties to Roger Stone and has been known to fan the flames of controversy in the past.
He has been convicted of DUI, charged with inciting violence on Twitter and claimed facial recognition technology proved that some of the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters were not Trump fans, but “antifa” posing as them.
Gaetz’s father who was a welcome senator. He sold his company with his partners in 2004 for $406 million.
They had founded VITAS Healthcare in the 1980s. He was a senator for ten years from 2006 to 2016.
McGee used to be a prosecutor at the Department of Justice, but he is now a private attorney.
According to his biography on his law firm’s website, he spent six years as a first assistant in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and seven years as a lead attorney for a U.S. Department of Justice’s Task Force on Organized Crime.
Kent is an Air Force intelligence officer whose involvement in the alleged plot was not revealed through the texts until Wednesday night.
Levinson worked for the FBI for 22 years before disappearing in Iran in 2007. The government claimed they knew nothing about it, but later admitted that he had worked there for the CIA.
The last time he was seen alive was in 2011, when he appeared in photos of proof of life. His family says they were given reason to believe he was dead this month.
Greenberg, a former tax collector in Florida’s Seminole County, is at the center of the federal investigation into whether Gaetz trafficked a minor for sex.
Greenberg was arrested last year and immediately began telling the FBI about Gaetz and how they “sex trafficking” together to make a deal.
Federal prosecutors recently dropped 27 charges against Greenberg in exchange for his cooperation and testimony.
Greenberg admitted to introducing the minor he trafficked to other adult men, who allegedly engaged in sexual acts with the minor in front of Greenberg, court papers showed.
The papers did not identify the other adult males. Gaetz has not been charged with any crimes and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. He was not named in the plea agreement or during the trial.
It was also revealed in a letter obtained by the Daily Beast, which Greenberg wrote to Trump confidant Roger Stone asking for a pardon, that the couple paid for sex with the minor who was “involved in sexual activity” with Gaetz.
Investigators are trying to determine if Gaetz had sex with the same 17-year-old Greenberg charged with human trafficking, according to reports and a law enforcement source who spoke to Reuters.
Court documents show that Greenberg, who is married, is deemed ready to accuse Gaetz of paying at least 15 young women for sex, including an escort named Megan Zalonka after a cocaine-fueled party at a Trump fundraiser.
A recent report alleged that Gaetz snorted cocaine and had sex with Zalonka, an escort and amateur Instagram model, who was Gaetz’ date at the Trump Defender Gala in Orlando in October 2019.
After the gala there was an afterparty in Gaetz’s hotel room, The everyday beast reported. Zalonka, 28, chopped up lines of cocaine, which she and Gaetz took together, the report alleges.
Greenberg is also said to have paid up to $15,000 in government money after he hired her for a job as a social media manager in Seminole County, which did not require Zalonka to do any work, the report claims.
Two sources told the site that Zalonka and the Florida congressman had an ongoing financial relationship in exchange for sex. However, the Daily Beast could not confirm that Zalonka and Gaetz had sex on the night of the gala.
A former Capitol Hill intern who dated Gaetz has also reportedly agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
The unnamed woman worked on Capitol Hill and was linked with the congressman in Florida as early as 2017, CNN reported.
The ex-girlfriend, who is not publicly named, was on a trip Gaetz made to the Bahamas in 2018, which reportedly involved drug use and hookups with women, including paying for sex.
Gaetz’s ex is believed to be key to helping prosecutors compile transaction records, which they believe are payment for sex.
In April, Politico reported that the ex-girlfriend had told friends she was concerned the 17-year-old was trying to persuade her to charge him after the teen called her to discuss the trip to the Bahamas.
The call took place sometime after Greenberg was charged with the sex offense in August, it was reported.
Gaetz was joined in the Bahamas by two other Republican political players from Florida – Jason Piruzzolo, a former member of the Orlando Aviation Authority who has acted as a fundraiser for Governor Ron DeSantis; and Halsey Beshears, a former state representative.
Federal authorities are investigating the trip to the Bahamas to see if it violates the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people across state lines to engage in prostitution.