Continues to rage at Washington since Gaetz alleges a conspiracy to pay $25 million and the New York Times has reported that an investigation to his journey across state lines using a little sex. Both are serious allegations and someone is clearly lying. The issue is why, after a year of documented investigation, the inherent facts appear unresolved. Either this woman was 17 or she wasn’t. Either Gaetz traveled with her or he did not. Then there’s a recorded call that may show the veracity of important witnesses. In other words, there’s raging speculation over details which need to be readily and already established. Why?
The Justice Department has long been criticized because of leaks, including leaks tied to the Russian investigation. As a defense attorney, I have had to take care of such leaks that are calculated to stress defendants.
Obviously, the Justice Department has also been criticized for talking about cases which don’t lead to charges as revealed by the James Comey press conference prior to the 2016 election. The Justice Department is not in the company of clearing subjects or addressing public controversies.
That is the reason why Congress might need to step forward to seek confirmation of basic facts on the allegations against Gaetz. It has ample authority and motive to do so. But, it has allegedly been under investigation for a year along with also the age and relationship with this woman should have been simple to confirm.
Obviously, assuming the woman was underage, there may be complicating factors. For instance, they may not have traveled together but she could claim they organized to meet on such excursions. Once more, however, such traveling (along with her status as a minor) must already be established. Gaetz insists he knows of no such person. Period.
Then there’s the telephone that’s being cited by Gaetz as part of an attempt to extort. In case the call was recorded by one of those parties, then it is not clear why it cannot be released. Gaetz needs it released and presumably his dad (who is allegedly on the phone) would agree. Another party is allegedly former Justice Department attorney David McGee, now with the law firm Beggs & Lane. McGee insists being a part of any such conspiracy and states he has no objection to the release.
The telephone is 1 area to test the trustworthiness of Gaetz who claims it will demonstrably show extortion while McGee insists it was a benign call using a worried dad.
In case the telephone was orchestrated by the Justice Department, then it’s unlikely to publish the transcript or the recording exclusively to deal with the controversy. (Gaetz’s dad said he wore a wire at the behest of the FBI). Really, absent an indictment, it may not be released. The only other avenue is for Congress to seek the transcript or recording citing legislative and oversight power. With all the parties raising no objection to release, the only question would be law enforcement rights and any privacy issues in the event the woman’s identity is revealed directly or indirectly. However, it’s possible to address such problems through redactions or summaries.
What’s curious is that Gaetz remains, after a year, but allegedly a subject not a target in the analysis. In the event the prosecutors confirmed the woman was underaged and traveled using Gaetz or had a sexual relationship with him, he would obviously be a target. Obviously there’s a tendency to keep the lower standing as long as possible but I would have anticipated a grand jury submission after a year on such a relatively straight-forward situation or at least a change in position for Gaetz.
There is a categorical refusal by Gaetz there was ever such a woman or such excursions or this type of connection. While Democratic members have known for his immediate resignation, it would be useful to have facts and an investigation. I hold no brief for Gaetz that I have previously criticized. Moreover, I took exactly the Exact Same position with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. You cannot state that you are safeguarding the rule of law once you shed some notion of due procedure. All these are facts that should not be hard for Congress to confirm even without disclosures in the Justice Department. If there’s such a woman, she is now an adult but her identity may nevertheless be protected from general disclosure in any congressional investigation. The primary issue is an issue of a date. That does not require speculation. Just a calendar.