The end of the road for Matt Gaetz

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Yesterday I pointed out that a few weeks ago, federal prosecutors let it be known through the media that they were looking to criminally indict Matt Gaetz in July, and that we’re now in July. In other words, Gaetz’s arrest could come at any time.

Someone pushed back on this, suggesting that Gaetz can’t still be on a path to criminal indictment, since he’s still on House committees, and he’s out there holding political rallies. Rather than dismiss this as mere garden variety defeatism, it’s perhaps worth explaining why these things have nothing to do with each other.

First, the amount of media coverage that a criminal case is getting in any given week or month has very little to do with whether that case is still active or making progress. For instance, the New York criminal case quietly chugged along behind the scenes all throughout 2021, but it didn’t become a media thing until a few weeks ago. Similarly, just because there has been little reporting on the Matt Gaetz investigation over the past week or two, it doesn’t tell us anything about what’s going on behind the scenes. 95% of what goes on in a criminal probe takes place behind the scenes; the media only gets to print the scraps it can dig up or is strategically fed.

Second, just because a congressman is soon going to be criminally indicted and arrested, there’s no invisible hand that automatically removes them from a House committee or blocks them doing political rallies. Only the House can remove someone from a House committee, and Kevin McCarthy is still refusing to do that. And no one can block someone from holding a political rally ahead of being indicted; that’s just not a thing.

The federal prosecutors who are building the criminal case against Matt Gaetz only have the power to have a grand jury indict him, and have law enforcement arrest him. There are no intermediary steps that prosecutors would, or even could, take to “rein in” Gaetz in the weeks leading up his arrest. For lack of a better way of putting it, nothing works that way.

So the fact that Matt Gaetz is still serving on House committees, still holding political rallies, and still trying to act like he’s going to get away with it all, tells us nothing. The fact that the media has recently gone quiet about the Gaetz investigation, also tells us nothing. Prosecutors told us through the media few weeks ago that the charging decision would come in July. If that were to have changed, prosecutors probably would have told us that through the media by now as well. So there is every reason to expect that Gaetz is still on track for indictment and arrest sometime this month. To presume otherwise is to misunderstand how these things work.


It’s anyone’s guess as to whether prosecutors will decide to feed more details to the media in the days leading up to his indictment, or whether they’ll spring his arrest out of nowhere. But prosecutors recently told us all that it would be July, and this is July, so here we go.

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