The Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) Scandal continues to rage in Washington when Gaetz alleges a $ 25 million blackmail plot and the New York Times reported an investigation into his travel across state lines with a minor for sex. Both are serious allegations and someone is clearly lying. The question is why, after a year of reported investigation, the underlying facts appear unsolved. Either this girl was 17 or she wasn’t. Gaetz either traveled with her or he didn’t. Then there is a recorded call that could prove the veracity of the key witnesses. In other words, there is fierce speculation about facts that should be easily and already established. Why?
Gaetz’s investigation came during the tenure of former Attorney General Bill Barr – another example of how his division conducted an impartial investigation. In fact, reports suggest Barr avoided Gaetz during his tenure due to the investigation.
The Justice Ministry has long been criticized for leaks, including leaks related to the Russian investigation. As a defense attorney, I have had to deal with such leaks, which are clearly designed to put defendants under pressure.
Of course, the Justice Department has also been criticized for talking about non-indictable cases, as demonstrated by James Comey’s press conference ahead of the 2016 elections. The Justice Department is not responsible for resolving issues or addressing public controversy.
Because of this, Congress may need to take a step forward to confirm the basic facts behind the allegations against Gaetz. It has enough authority and reason to do so. If Gaetz is guilty, he is likely to be prosecuted and likely expelled from Congress. However, it has been reportedly under investigation for a year and the age and relationship with this girl should have been easy to confirm.
Of course, provided the girl was a minor, there may be complicating factors. For example, they may not have traveled together, but she could claim that they dated on such trips. Once again, such a trip (and your status as a minor) must already be determined. Gaetz insists that he doesn’t know any such person. Period.
There are reports that Gaetz’s investigation began with an investigation into sex trafficking against third parties. This larger case could also lead to delays in the filing of indictments.
Then there is the appeal that Gaetz quotes as part of his extortion efforts. If the call was recorded by one of the participants, it is not clear why it cannot be released. Gaetz wants to release it and presumably his father (who is supposed to be on the phone) would agree. The other party is reportedly former Justice Department attorney David McGee, currently with the Beggs & Lane law firm. McGee denies being part of such a conspiracy and says he has no objection to the release.
The call is an area to test the credibility of Gaetz, who insists that he shows evidence of blackmail, while McGee insists it was a harmless phone call to an affected father.
If the call was coordinated by the Department of Justice, it is unlikely that the transcript or recording will be released solely to resolve the controversy. (Gaetz’s father said he carried a wire at the behest of the FBI). Indeed, a charge cannot be published without release. The only other option would be for Congress to obtain the minutes or the record, relying on oversight and legislative power. As the parties do not object to the release, the only issue would be eligibility for law enforcement and any privacy concerns if the girl’s identity is disclosed, directly or indirectly. However, it is possible to address such issues through editorial offices or summaries.
What is strange is that after a year, Gaetz is supposedly still an issue that is not the subject of the investigation. If the prosecution confirmed that the girl was a minor and was traveling with Gaetz or had a sexual relationship with him, he would clearly be a target. Of course, there is a tendency to keep the lower status as long as possible, but I would have expected the grand jury to come up with such a simple case or at least a status change for Gaetz after a year.