Every once in awhile the DOJ does something which reminds us that just because nothing has publicly surfaced of late about an ongoing criminal probe, it doesn’t mean that probe has come to a halt or ceased to exist. If anything, it typically means that the probe is in a stage where the progress being made in it simply doesn’t lend itself to becoming public. Then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, an indictment lands.
That brings us to the DOJ criminal probe into former Florida Republican official Joel Greenberg, who committed seemingly every crime in the book, and ended up pleading guilty on charges including underage sex trafficking. He also cut a cooperation deal, which has turned out to be a real problem for a number of other Florida Republicans, including his pal Matt Gaetz.
Various major news outlets have reported that the DOJ is investigating Gaetz for alleged underage sex trafficking among other things, and that the DOJ has managed to line up three cooperating witnesses against him. That list includes Greenberg, Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend, and Joe Ellicott. But why hasn’t anything happened lately in this probe?
The more accurate question would be why anything hasn’t happened publicly lately in this probe. It turns out there has been plenty going on lately behind the scenes, culminating in yesterday’s indictment of Florida Republican operative Michael Shirley on fraud charges.
This serves as proof that the DOJ probe, which started out focused on Greenberg and has since moved on to focusing on Greenberg’s associates including Gaetz, is alive and well. The fact that yet another Greenberg associate has just been indicted is all the proof you need that Gaetz isn’t somehow magically off the hook just because nothing has surfaced publicly about the DOJ’s case against him lately.
So why hasn’t Matt Gaetz been indicted yet? There’s a lot of chatter on social media about it being due to the DOJ’s unofficial “60 day rule” about not indicting political candidates within 60 days of election day unless absolutely necessary. But this doesn’t make a lot of sense. We’re 49 days out from election day, meaning the “60 day rule” only kicked in eleven days ago, which means the DOJ could have indicted Gaetz twelve days ago if it wanted to.
We continue to suspect that the real reason Matt Gaetz hasn’t been indicted yet is that the DOJ probe into Gaetz has some kind of ties to the DOJ probe into Donald Trump, and that indicting Gaetz at this particular point in time would be counterproductive to the Trump case. And really, who cares when Gaetz gets indicted? What matters is that it does happen. And when three people close to you have all cut deals against you, you’re not magically getting off the hook.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report