Daily News Update, US NEWS


April 19, 2021


TRUENEWSBLOG-  Battling anonymous leaks that he had sex with a minor or had paid prostitutes, Rep. MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) appeared at Trump National Doral Miami on Friday night (where else?) and spoke to the pro-Trump Women for America First, delivering a speech aimed just as much at the crowd as the bank of TV cameras recording his stemwinder.

Basically, Gaetz did exactly what defense lawyers and establishment types in politics and media say an embattled pol shouldn’t do: He ran his mouth, and acerbically so. Gaetz swiped at the “lying media.” He decried the “smears” against him and the “distortions of my personal life … [and] wild conspiracy theories.” He pledged he “won’t be extorted by a former DOJ official and the crooks he is working with. The alleged extortion plot is one of those odd twists that prove how Florida is stranger than fiction.

But that’s Gaetz. He isn’t an establishment type. He’s a MAGA media figure. He’s always starring in The Gaetz Show, perhaps a vestige of having grown up in the house where and while “The Truman Show” was filmed (remember: Florida is stranger than fiction).

Gaetz, 38, grew into his role as a TV figure shortly after arriving in Washington in 2017. In the seniority-based gerontocracy that is Congress, he realized that the path to political power and influence was to have President DONALD TRUMP’S ear — and the way to do that was by auditioning as Trump’s top defender on Fox News. It worked. 

Trump loved it and promoted him. Gaetz got a podcast (“Hot Takes with Matt Gaetz”). He penned a book (“Firebrand: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the MAGA Revolution”). He starred in an HBO documentary (“The Swamp”). In his newfound celebrity, Gaetz styled himself into a ladies’ man, showing up to high-profile events with a number of different beautiful women. 

At a 2018 Republican Party of Florida Lincoln Day dinner in Orlando, he caused a stir by appearing with two dates, one of whom is a model for Monster Energy Drink and had competed decades ago in child beauty pageants against JonBenét Ramsey (remember: Florida is stranger than fiction).

Gaetz’s predilections brought him into the orbit of Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, who now sits in federal jail and awaits trial on a 33-count indictment. He appears ready to cut a deal with prosecutors. They want Gaetz. One of the charges Greenberg faces concerns sex with a 17-year-old, with whom Gaetz is suspected of also having sex. Two POLITICO sources say Gaetz had personally told them he had sexual relations with her, but only after she turned 18 in November 2017. 

About six months after the woman turned 18, The Daily Beast first reported , Gaetz used Venmo to send money to Greenberg, and mentioned the woman’s name in the payment’s memo. POLITICO first reported this week that the woman, who did not return messages for comment, went on to work in pornography, and that Greenberg had boasted about that fact to friends. 

We’ve also learned that she was on a Bahamas trip, first reported by CBS, that federal prosecutors are examining as part of their investigation. The story is developing and grows more lurid and strange by the day. It’s unlikely Gaetz will get quiet. He’s not only speaking out, he’s fundraising off of the investigation. The cash is rolling in. He needs it to pay his new lawyers. 

Though a lawyer himself, Gaetz believes that letting attorneys speak for you — especially if you’re innocent — often makes you look more guilty. Advice rendered in a court of law is sometimes horrible in the court of public opinion. And he’s the star of The Gaetz Show, not them. It’s what keeps everyone tuned in — that, and the fact that Florida is stranger than fiction.

THE LATEST IN GAETZ-GATE — “House Ethics Committee opens Gaetz investigation,” by Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu.

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