Via America’s Lawyer: The clock is ticking for FL representative Matt Gaetz, who has been directly implicated in sex trafficking and soliciting sex from at least one underage girl. Now his associate Joel Greenberg is pleading guilty, meaning it’s only a matter of time before the congressman must face justice. Filling in for Mike Papantonio this week, Farron Cousins gives us an update on the Matt Gaetz scandal.

Transcript:

*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Farron Cousins:                  The past week has given us a lot of new developments in the Matt Gaetz saga. But the biggest came on Monday of this week when Gaetz’s former associate Joel Greenberg updated his plea from not guilty to guilty.

Fritz Scheller:                       Mr. Greenberg has pled guilty, pursuant to a plea agreement. It has certain requirements and obligations on him. Um, and he attends to honor that. I think he’s feeling a sense of acceptance and he definitely feels a sense of remorse. When somebody accepts responsibility for their actions, that’s the first step, recognition, acceptance of what they’ve done. And that’s the first store, um, that’s the first step towards rehabilitation or in a rehabilitative process, that’s the first step in redemption.

Farron Cousins:                  Greenberg of course, is the South Florida politician that had been indicted on 33 different counts, including human trafficking, but his new plea had him plead guilty to only six charges. So this reduction in the number of charges that he’s willing to admit to committing is a strong indication that Greenberg has agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors who are likely dropping some of the lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation. On Monday news broke that the new deal includes Greenberg implicating quote, multiple men in criminal activities that Greenberg was also involved in, though the names of these men have not yet been released. And while it’s easy to speculate that Matt Gaetz is one of them, I mean, after all Greenberg admitted in a confession letter to Roger Stone, that Gaetz had sex with an underage girl, we won’t know for certain until charges are actually filed.

And that’s another thing that we have to keep in mind here. At this point, Gaetz has not yet been charged. In fact, many had even speculated that Gaetz was merely mentioned in the investigation from the department of justice. And that could mean that he isn’t even a target. However, evidence from the past week strongly refutes those claims because in addition to the change of plea from Greenberg, it was also revealed last week that investigators were attempting to convince both Greenberg and a woman who was a former Capitol Hill intern and ex girlfriend of Matt Gaetz, to flip on the congressmen. The fact that investigators are actively working to get information on Gaetz from those who knew him best is a very strong indication that the Congressman is a target in the DOJ investigation, but that’s actually not even all that we learned this past week, either.

A report from the Daily Beast revealed that Gaetz allegedly attended drug fueled sex parties with a woman who was being paid by Greenberg for sexual favors though, at this point, it’s unclear if this was one of the women who Gaetz was involved with, although witnesses say that the two were always very close to one another, when they saw them together. On top of that, they were also more Venmo receipts showing Gaetz and Greenberg paying all sorts of items that are certainly questionable at best and likely even illegal. Now, Gaetz has attempted to downplay this new report over the weekend by trying to claim that he never paid for any naughty favors as he called them. But he then went on to give an excuse that former federal prosecutor and legal analyst Glenn Kirchner said amounted to an emission. Gaetz said that the real criminals are the ones in Congress who take money from lobbyists, for earmarks and other legislation.

You know, it’s never a smart move to try and deflect from your own legal problems by saying that other people have committed worse crimes, because yes, it makes it look like you’re guilty too. Now, Mike Papantonio, and I have covered this story extensively on this program and so far all the predictions that we’ve made have come true. So let’s take time now to revisit the most recent conversation that we had about this topic.

Mike Papantonio:             So let’s, let’s really nail this story. I look at this story and it gets weirder by the moment. You got Roger Stone kicking around in there, you got confession letters kicking around. You got Matt Gaetz hiring lawyers. He’s lawyering up, paying money through his campaign income to, to, to pay, to pay his way through this. Give me your take on this story.

Farron Cousins:                  Um, right off the top, I think, look, Matt Gaetz understands how much trouble he is in, and there’s no way he can even spin himself out of it at this point. But what we found out late last week, the Daily Beast, which who by the way, has done a phenomenal job on this story. You know, we always talk about how journalism’s dead, the Daily Beast doing some great work here.

Mike Papantonio:             Good.

Farron Cousins:                  But, you know, they published these letters that they had gotten from Greenberg, where he wrote these letters to Roger Stone at Stone’s request saying, hey, I’ll try to get you the pardon because that’s what they had been talking about in this private messaging app that Greenberg, for some reason screenshot the conversations. So we know all this is true.

Mike Papantonio:             Now this is one that’s supposed to disappear.

Farron Cousins:                  Right, right. They’re supposed to disappear after five.

Mike Papantonio:             Called Signal.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah, after five seconds, but Greenberg said, let me save it. So he writes confession letters at Roger Stone’s requests because Roger Stone was going to take these to Donald Trump and to the pardon committee and to Pat Cipollone. And of course, Roger Stone at the end of all of it, and this is skipping a lot of info, but Roger Stone couldn’t secure the pardon for Greenberg, but did eventually get one for himself. So it worked out for Stone, not so much for Greenberg and by extension Matt Gaetz.

Mike Papantonio:             It sounds like the Confederacy of Dunces.

Farron Cousins:                  It really is.

Mike Papantonio:             To tell you the truth. Okay. So $250,000 is on the table. Roger, you go get me this pardon and you’re going to make $250,000. And oh, by the way, if you get it by the end of tomorrow, I’m going to give you an extra $50,000. Well, Roger comes into it says, you know, I did, I did my best, but something you need to know, something you need to know, Joel. And that is that Matt Gaetz told me that he didn’t want, he didn’t want me to help you. He wants, he wants you out there swinging in the wind, basically. Right?

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. And that is what shocked Greenberg, because Greenberg in a previous conversation had told Roger Stone, listen, I am under tremendous pressure from the feds, from the authorities to start flipping on MG, as they called him in the conversations, Matt Gaetz. So they wanted him to flip, but he was reluctant to do so because he thought he was going to get a pardon. I don’t need to cut a deal with these people because everything’s going to be okay. And then Stone tells him, hey, your good friend is the one who interfered and it almost, I mean, it broke poor Greenberg’s heart. He was so distraught after that, he said, oh wow, he didn’t know what to do. And I think that was the point where he probably picked up his phone to his lawyers and said, all right, it’s time to play let’s make a deal.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. So the quote is, he actually said not to help. That’s what he, that’s what, that’s what Stone is reporting to Joel. Okay. This is, you know how this goes, right? So we talked about this as soon as we, the first time we reported this story, this is where we said it was going to go, it’s there. Here’s where it’s going next. They’re talking to the underage girl who now is 19, probably 19 years old. And so they’re, they’re, they’re saying to her, you’re interfering, you’re interfering with this to the point that you, that it’s obstruction of justice. But the interference alone, even before you get to the serious obstruction of justice is a very serious kind of thing. She doesn’t want to spend any time in prison.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             She’s, she’s being told she can. Take it from there.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. I mean, she’s got her whole life ahead of her. You know, she’s still young figuring things out. Didn’t realize at such a young age, she was going to be involved in a scandal of this magnitude. And of course, we also find out that allegedly, she had lied about her age to Greenberg and Gaetz. And, you know, Greenberg tried to say, oh, you, look what you’ve done. This is horrible young lady. We don’t know if she actually lied or if they knew and didn’t care.

Mike Papantonio:             It doesn’t make any difference.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             I mean, statutory rape is statutory rape. Look, but what he says is he, this is Greenberg, says Matt Gaetz and I both had sex with the underage girl. So obviously he’s not making that up.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             He’s saying I’m, I’m telling you I did it and Matt Gaetz did it. I don’t see a quick way, oh, and then Joel, Joel says to Stone, Joel Greenberg says to Stone, I pray, the Lord will help. Almost, I mean, just really dark, dark kind of contrast here. It’s a, it’s almost a sociopathic kind of reality. Isn’t it?

Farron Cousins:                  It is.

Mike Papantonio:             As you watch this story, you see sociopath everywhere and the sociopath reality that everybody’s caught up in. Right?

Farron Cousins:                  Right. Well, and Matt Gaetz has never had to face any consequences for any of his problems in the past. You know, daddy got him out of the DUIs. In fact, the cop that actually pulled him over and gave him the DUI, the cop ended up getting fired. That’s how much power daddy had here in the state of Florida. But dad can’t help you now, Matt. He’s not involved in any of this. He doesn’t have any power over these investigative bodies. You’re in deep trouble. And at one point too, Greenberg even said, you know, I’ve already told everybody you’re going to need to hire a lawyer. And this was about a year ago, he said that to everybody.

Mike Papantonio:             Didn’t you love when Green, the quote Greenberg says, you think Gaetz is going to visit me in prison? It gets crazy. He, Greenberg says, I feel abandoned. Yeah. Well, he’s abandoned by his pal. I can tell you that. Because his pal is fighting for not only his political life, but the right to stay out of prison.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. I mean, that’s, what’s really on the table now for Matt Gaetz. It’s, it’s evolved beyond trying to save his seat.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  Now he’s actually trying to save his behind.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, you got it. In many ways.

Farron Cousins:                  Again, Gaetz has not been hit with any charges yet, and he’s still parading around the country on his speaking tour acting as if none of this matters. But if Greenberg has beans to spill, he’s going to start spilling soon and that’s the big takeaway from all the stories of the past week. At this point, Greenberg has no choice but to cooperate with prosecutors and deliver any evidence that he has or else he runs the risk of being hit with even more charges and having whatever plea deal he has arranged revoked. Gaetz might want to invest in a good defense lawyer because Greenberg’s plea deal is an exceptionally big deal.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.