Matt Gaetz spent Tuesday feuding with CNN, even going so far as to insist that the cable news network is conspiring against him. This stuff may play well with Gaetz’s core support base. But then Tuesday night happened, and it was a reminder that this isn’t the kind of scandal that Gaetz can tweet his way out of.
First the New York Times reported last night that Gaetz’s associate Joel Greenberg actually flipped on him last year, likely meaning that the Feds are much further along in their criminal probe into Gaetz than previously expected. Then Politico reported late last night that the Feds seized Gaetz’s phone in December, right around the time he reportedly sought a blanket preemptive pardon from Trump.
To be clear, the Feds would not have been able to obtain a warrant to seize Gaetz’s phone unless they already had some evidence connecting Gaetz to criminal activity. It’s not known what the Feds found on Gaetz’s phone. But this does mean that they likely already have all of Gaetz’s communications with everyone else involved in the scandal, including any women or girls, along with Gaetz’s financial records in apps such as Venmo.
If the reporting is true that Gaetz sought a last minute pardon from Trump (they’ve both denied it in trickily worded statements), then it means that Gaetz has been expecting to end up indicted since his phone was seized. Federal criminal investigations move at a glacially slow pace in the name of building a comprehensive case that’s unbeatable at trial, but they get there eventually.
In other words, even a lunkhead like Gaetz knows that attacking CNN on Twitter isn’t going to save him. This is going to come down to the evidence against him at trial. Perhaps he’s simply behaving this way on Twitter to try to motivate his support base to fund his inevitable criminal defense. Even he knows that no one can tweet their way out of an indictment – at least now that Trump is no longer in power. Or maybe he’s just panicking because he’s cornered and doesn’t know what else to do.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report