The former Florida tax official whose criminal case led to a sex trafficking investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz has agreed to plead guilty to six of the charges against him and to cooperate with federal investigators, court filings show.
In a copy of the plea agreement submitted in federal court in Orlando on Friday, Joel Greenberg said he will plead guilty to charges of identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, conspiracy to bribe a public official and sex trafficking of a minor — a fraction of the 33 charges that prosecutors had already slapped him with.
The filing also said he agrees “to cooperate fully with the United States in the investigation and prosecution of other persons, and to testify, subject to prosecution for perjury or making a false statement, fully and truthfully before any federal court proceeding or federal grand jury in connection with the charges in this case.”
If he cooperates fully, the government will seek a reduced sentence. A judge will hold a hearing on the proposed deal on Monday.
It's uncertain what the agreement means for the investigation into Gaetz, who has not been charged with any crime and who's repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Federal investigators are looking into whether Gaetz and Greenberg used the internet to search for women they could pay for sex. They are also investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a minor and paid for her to travel with him, The New York Times reported.
According to the court filing, Greenberg spent over $70,000 in 150 transactions between 2016 and 2018 to pay women for sex.
One of those women was under 18 “for part of the time” Greenberg paid her for sex acts “with him and others.”
Friday, May 14, 2021
Last Call For Meathead Matt's #MeToo Moment, Con't
Vaccination Nation, Congress Edition
Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill are all vaccinated and proud of it. Even all but a handful of GOP Senators are too. But less than half of House Republicans are vaccinated, and that's a major problem.
Democratic lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have a 100% vaccination rate against Covid-19, a CNN survey of Capitol Hill found this week, significantly outpacing Republicans in the House and Senate and illustrating the partisan divide over the pandemic.
For Republicans, at least 44.8% of House members are vaccinated and at least 92% of senators are, CNN found.
In a follow-up to a March House-wide survey and interviews with members, CNN confirmed that 312 of the 431 members of the House -- just over 72% of the 431-member body -- have now received a Covid-19 vaccination. Of that, all 219 House Democrats have reported being vaccinated. Among the Republican conference, 95 of the 212 members -- 44.8% -- have said they are vaccinated.
One hundred and twelve Republican offices did not respond to multiple CNN inquires.
Although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors except under special circumstances, the House mask requirement will remain in place until all members and floor staff are fully vaccinated.
"No," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said when asked if the rule mandating masks unless a member is speaking on the House floor would be modified. She then asked, "Are they all vaccinated?"
One House Republican, Rep. Tom Massie of Kentucky, said he is not vaccinated.
"The Pfizer and Moderna trials showed no benefit from the vaccine for those previously infected, so I will not be taking the vaccine," Massie said in a statement to CNN.
Both clinical trial and real-life data finds the mRNA vaccines are more than 95% effective at preventing severe Covid-19 illness, hospitalizations and death.
Three other Republicans -- Reps. Greg Steube and Kat Cammack of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia -- said they did not want to share the information.
"I'm not going to talk about it. I don't think anybody should have to share their personal, private medical information with anybody," Steube told CNN.
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania told CNN, "I have the antibodies" when asked if he had been vaccinated. But experts don't know how long antibodies last in a person who has recovered from Covid-19, and research suggests that coronavirus vaccines will provide better protection, especially when it comes to some of the worrying variants. One study found that people in South Africa who received the Pfizer vaccine after B.1.351 became the dominant circulating virus were still very strongly protected from infection, and that protection lasted for at least six months.
Prince Of Darkness, Con't
A network of conservative activists, aided by a British former spy, mounted a campaign during the Trump administration to discredit perceived enemies of President Trump inside the government, according to documents and people involved in the operations.
The campaign included a planned sting operation against Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, H.R. McMaster, and secret surveillance operations against F.B.I. employees, aimed at exposing anti-Trump sentiment in the bureau’s ranks.
The operations against the F.B.I., run by the conservative group Project Veritas, were conducted from a large home in the Georgetown section of Washington that rented for $10,000 per month. Female undercover operatives arranged dates with the F.B.I. employees with the aim of secretly recording them making disparaging comments about Mr. Trump.
The campaign shows the obsession that some of Mr. Trump’s allies had about a shadowy “deep state” trying to blunt his agenda — and the lengths that some were willing to go to try to purge the government of those believed to be disloyal to the president.
Central to the effort, according to interviews, was Richard Seddon, a former undercover British spy who was recruited in 2016 by the security contractor Erik Prince to train Project Veritas operatives to infiltrate trade unions, Democratic congressional campaigns and other targets. He ran field operations for Project Veritas until mid-2018.
Last year, The New York Times reported that Mr. Seddon ran an expansive effort to gain access to the unions and campaigns and led a hiring effort that nearly tripled the number of the group’s operatives, according to interviews and deposition testimony. He trained operatives at the Prince family ranch in Wyoming.
The efforts to target American officials show how a campaign once focused on exposing outside organizations slowly morphed into an operation to ferret out Mr. Trump’s perceived enemies in the government’s ranks.
Whether any of Mr. Trump’s White House advisers had direct knowledge of the campaign is unclear, but one of the participants in the operation against Mr. McMaster, Barbara Ledeen, said she was brought on by someone “with access to McMaster’s calendar.”
- New CDC guidance states that fully vaccinated Americans no longer have to wear masks, even indoors, and can go about most activities safely.
- Nine people were shot in Rhode Island in a drive-by shootout, three in critical condition, as gunmen in a vehicle attacked a Providence home Thursday night.
- Israeli army forces fired artillery shells into Gaza Friday as Hamas rocket attacks continue, the UN Security Council is expected to meet on Sunday after the US objected to an earlier meeting.
- A Trump spokesman says he will resume "regular" political rallies next month, with venues still to be determined.
- Washington state Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell is taking issue with NASA's choice of SpaceX for its Artemis Program, Jeff Bezos-owned competitor Blue Origin was passed over.