The legal saga of Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., just keeps getting stranger — even by Florida standards. Just three days before news broke publicly of a federal probe into the Congressman's alleged child sex trafficking, Scott Adams — the Trump acolyte and creator of the popular newspaper cartoon "Dilbert" — was apparently discussing "inside knowledge" of the investigation with an employee of the Israeli consulate in New York City, according to a new report from POLITICO.
Jake Novak, who the publication identifies as the director of broadcast media at the Consulate General of Israel, and Adams were reportedly friendly on social media and spoke sometimes. But during this conversation, Novak apparently indicated that he was involved in a plot to convince Gaetz' father, a longtime Florida politico himself, to give $25 million as part of a plan to free a U.S. hostage in Iran.
"Scoop I can't report: Rep. Gaetz is the subject of a sex with minor…. I trust the source. Charges/accusations apparently 'very credible'," Novak wrote to Adams, according to text messages first reported by the American Conservative. After the news became public several days later, Novak followed up with another message: "told ya."
There was no indication Novak believed the scheme to be a crime, POLITICO reported — though another man, the Florida real estate developer Stephen Alford, was indicted late last month for attempting to defraud Gaetz' father. Court documents allege that Alford claimed he could broker a presidential pardon for Gaetz in exchange for freeing the hostage, named Bob Levinson, who most intelligence officials believe to be dead.
The Israeli consulate told the outlet that neither it nor the state of Israel were involved in the plot.
"Jake Novak is a staffer at the Israeli Consulate in New York, and is not serving in any official diplomatic capacity. His correspondence mentioned in this story was not in any way, shape or form a part of his role at the consulate," Itay Milner, a spokesperson for the consulate, told POLITICO. "After this matter was brought to our attention, it was made clear to Mr. Novak that this is not acceptable by the consulate general, he must never be involved in such matters again and that he must cut immediately all his connections to the issue."
Gaetz has been accused of participating in drug-fueled orgies and paying for sex with an underage woman — as well as funding a trip for that underage woman across state lines. Many of the allegations were corroborated by a series of confession letters penned by Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg, an ex-Florida tax collector, and obtained by The Daily Beast.
The salacious details of the case have enraptured Washington, D.C. and beyond — with Law and Order even featuring an episode Thursday night with a Congressman storyline eerily similar to the Gaetz saga.
This case is just the beginning. #SVU returns with a 2-HOUR premiere event Thursday, September 23 on @NBC. https://t.co/vkZqSlqjUc— 𝐋𝐀𝐖 & 𝐎𝐑𝐃𝐄𝐑 (@𝐋𝐀𝐖 & 𝐎𝐑𝐃𝐄𝐑) 1631553611.0
Adams, a cartoonist best known for creating the office comedy strip Dilbert, likely entered the story because of his connections to Trumpworld.
"People with connections to Israel had a high interest in me during the Trump days. Presumably to influence me," Adams told POLITICO. "Jake and I shared an interest in the mechanics of persuasion, and in interesting business/political stories in general. Most often the stuff with a persuasion or Israel angle. That was our initial connection … people often tell me their scoops before they hit the news just to build credibility. Might have been that."
After the text messages between the two parties became public, Adams also added that he did not know how reporters had gotten the information.
"We have not communicated since," Adams told POLITICO. "I'm just as confused as you about why Jake had any involvement and why he thought he needed to tell me."
The Texas secretary of state's office announced late Thursday that it has begun a "full forensic audit" of the 2020 general election in four Texas counties: Collin, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant. But the statement from that agency did not explain what prompted the move.
There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Texas in 2020. And earlier this year, an official for the agency called the 2020 election in Texas "smooth and secure."
Sam Taylor, a spokesperson for the office, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. No elections officials in the four counties immediately responded for comment.
The announcement came hours after Republican former President Donald Trump requested Gov. Greg Abbott add an election audit bill to this year's third special session. While Trump lost his reelection bid, he did win in Texas.
It was unclear if his request spurred the announcement from the secretary of state's office. Texas does not currently have a secretary of state. Former Secretary of State Ruth Ruggero Hughs, who oversaw the 2020 elections, resigned when the Texas Senate refused to confirm her appointment. Abbott has not yet picked a replacement. A spokesperson for the governor did not immediately respond to a question about the audits late Thursday.
Taylor's press release said the agency has "already begun the process in Texas' two largest Democrat counties and two largest Republican counties—Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, and Collin." While Tarrant has long been a Republican stronghold, Democratic President Joe Biden narrowly beat Trump there, according to the county's election results. The release said the agency expects the Legislature to provide funds for the audits. It did not describe what the audits entail.
Trump has pushed baseless claims of massive voter fraud for months since he lost the election last year — as he did after winning in 2016 — and has mounted numerous legal challenges to the certification of the 2020 election's results.
Many Texas Republicans have echoed or supported Trump's efforts to cast doubts on the election. But few Texas voters actually believe voting fraud is common, with only 19% believing ineligible people frequently cast ballots, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll from June.
Before Trump's term ended, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued four battleground states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — whose election results handed the White House to Biden. The U.S. Supreme Court briskly rejected the long-shot case.
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, filed a far-fetched lawsuit asking Vice President Mike Pence to challenge Joe Biden's legitimacy as president-elect. After a federal court tossed it, the Texas Republican appeared to propose violence in response.
On Jan. 6, as Congress prepared to certify the results of the election, Trump again falsely claimed at a rally in the nation's capital that he had won a second term. After that gathering, a mob of pro-Trump rioters clashed with police, scaled the U.S. Capitol walls, and violently forced their way into lawmakers' offices and onto the floors of the House and Senate.
Some Texas Republicans denounced the Capitol insurrection, but they didn't acknowledge their role in stoking false claims about the election that led to the day's violence.
Paxton made an appearance at the Jan. 6 rally before the insurrection, but his office refused to release records of his text messages and emails from that day to media outlets. Since then, the U.S. House committee investigating the siege has specifically requested Paxton's communications.
In a series of legislative sessions that began in January, Texas Republicans pushed for legislation to restrict voting access in the name of election integrity, despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud. And after three legislative sessions and dramatic Democratic quorum breaks meant to stop legislation, Abbott signed a sweeping bill into law in September that will tighten state election laws and limit counties' abilities to expand voting options. It took particular aim at voting initiatives used in Harris County, one of the largest and most diverse that voted Democratic in 2020 by banning overnight early voting hours and and drive-thru voting.
Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, responded to the secretary of state office's announcement on Twitter late Thursday.
"Let me be the first to congratulate the disgraced former president, Donald Trump, on his apparently becoming the new governor of Texas," Turner tweeted. "Pitiful yet predictable that @GregAbbott_TX has capitulated to Trump yet again."
Patrick Svitek contributed to this story.
Trump's hope for audit to distract from subpoenas dashed as Cyber Ninjas find he's an even bigger loser: report
Unable to post his thoughts to Twitter after being banned for his "Big Lie" of election fraud that incited the January 6th insurrection, Donald Trump repeatedly email out his thoughts on Thursday evening after some of this top aides were subpoenaed.
"The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol ubpoenaed former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Daniel Scavino, former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel, and former Trump advisor Stephen Bannon.
In an email received at 11 p.m. eastern, Trump linked the investigation into the insurrection to the widely panned Arizona audit of the votes in Maricopa County.
"Interesting that the Unselect Committee of political hacks 'dropped' their subpoena request the night before Arizona is expected to announce its findings from the Forensic Audit on voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election Scam," Trump said.
He went on to praise the Cyber Ninjas as "highly respected auditors" and claimed "everybody will be watching Arizona tomorrow."
The only problem? The results had already been leaked and confirmed Trump lost.
"In fact, the hand recount for Biden exceeded the county's tally by 99 votes, while Trump received 261 fewer votes than the official results," KJZZ reported.
"The hand count shows Trump received 45,469 fewer votes than Biden. The county results showed he lost by 45,109," The Arizona Republic reported.
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