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Indicted Matt Gaetz ally made over 150 Venmo payments to young women — including 17-year-old: report
On Wednesday, a new Daily Beast report revealed that the indicted former tax official tied to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) in the federal sex trafficking investigation, Joel Greenberg, made over 150 Venmo payments to young women, including a 17-year-old — often with crude or racy memo lines.
"Gaetz made only one previously unreported transaction in the newly obtained documents: a payment from the Florida congressman to the former Seminole County tax commissioner for $300 on November 1, 2018, with the love hotel emoji ('🏩') in the memo field," reported Jose Pagliery and Roger Sollenberger. "The Daily Beast was unable to tie that transaction directly to any woman, but confirmed that Greenberg booked one night for that date at The Alfond Inn, a luxury hotel in Winter Park, Florida."
"An examination of Greenberg's Venmo transactions shows dozens of suspicious and curiously titled payments," said the report. "Some were as simple as 'Ass' or a lipstick kiss mark ('💋'). Others were more opaque, such as 'Stuff' and 'Orher stuff' [sic]. According to three people with knowledge of the relationship, Gaetz was among the men who tapped Greenberg to access a large network of young women. Three payments in the reviewed documents — in amounts of $500, $500, and $250 — were designated for 'Ice cream.' Five other payments were for 'Salad,' one of which topped $1,000."
The payment Greenberg made to the 17-year-old was simply designated "Food."
"In the Venmo transactions reviewed by The Daily Beast ... there are at least 16 payments in 2017 totaling nearly $5,000 to a woman who would later go on to date Matt Gaetz," noted the report. "Additionally, Greenberg paid her $1,500 over the course of two days in April 2017 using Cash App. That woman — who came to Washington, D.C. as an intern in January 2018 — has said she dated Gaetz during and after her senior year in college."
This new reporting comes after CNN revealed Gaetz attended secret parties known for "drug use, sex, and payments" and that one woman claimed to have witnessed Gaetz taking recreational drugs. In addition to sex trafficking, federal authorities are reportedly investigating whether any of this came out of campaign funds.
Gaetz continues to deny all allegations.
On Wednesday, POLITICO reported that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has taken out a political ad attacking CNN as part of a PR offensive to try to deflect from the allegations of sex trafficking and misconduct.
"The new 30-second ad will be featured in the Florida Republican's congressional district and nationally on select cable networks, according to a statement from Gaetz's congressional campaign," reported Benjamin Din. "The ad marks the beginning of Gaetz's counteroffensive, as he 'fight[s] back against a multiweek fake news cycle against him,' it said."
"The ad incorporates footage obtained by Project Veritas, a conservative activist organization that has been known to use deceptive practices and spread misinformation in attempts to expose what it views as 'corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct' from liberal organizations or individuals," noted the report. "In the footage, a man identified as a CNN employee is heard making remarks about the news organization's coverage of Gaetz. A spokesperson for CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment."
Recent reporting indicates that an indicted Gaetz associate, former Florida county tax collector Joel Greenberg, has been cooperating with the Justice Department since last year, and may have given information against the congressman. Greenberg was allegedly an intermediary Gaetz used to Venmo money that was used to pay teenage girls.
Politico reporter Marc Caputo did an update for MSNBC's Ari Melber about Wednesday's developments in the ongoing saga of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and whether he is or isn't being indicted.
The news this morning was that the Justice Department asked Gaetz for his cell phone, which he handed over. More information has been revealed about the Bahamas trip with hand-surgeon and marijuana entrepreneur Jason Pirozzolo who made the invitation and paid for the trip. There were at least five women on the trip and according to one of them, they were all over 18 and no prostitution was involved.
"Yeah, it's a big problem for Matt Gaetz if the feds got his phone and that went in to get cleared through a judge, that kind of surveillance," said Melber. "Marc, this story has really accelerated with the reporting of the New York Times and your reporting in Politico. I don't know if you will answer this question, but I'm going to ask it. Does your reporting reflect that Matt Gaetz may have a legal/criminal problem or does your reporting at this point reflect a lot of stuff around him that the feds are looking at but that he may not be in things that are chargeable?"
Caputo confessed he was going to dodge the question a little, noting instead that it depends how "problem" is defined.
"When the federal government is seizing your phone, you got a problem," he said simply. "When your allies are saying, 'Hey, yeah, maybe he had sex with her, but it was when she was 18 and a half. When you are measuring people's ages in fractions, that's a problem. Is he going to be indicted? That's a whole other matter. The teen or former teen who is now 21, the question is what has she said to the federal government if anything. And what evidence is there that she can back up or shed more light on. Then obviously, there is the Joel Greenberg matter that he might have some problems as a witness against Gaetz. This is a guy who not only had sex with a 17-year-old but falsely smeared as a pedophile."
Republican Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) said that there wouldn't be any action on Gaetz until "something formal" took place. The Nation's Joan Walsh explained that when the DOJ takes your phone, it's a pretty formal act. Indeed it mandates a subpoena approved by a judge.
She noted that there seem to be a lot of witnesses involved in the scandal and that it will be difficult for Gaetz to deny if something happened.
Melber called out Fox News and other conservative outlets who aren't reporting much of the Gaetz story, other than the disastrous Tucker Carlson interview with Gaetz.
See the conversation below:
When the DOJ has your phone -- you've got a problem www.youtube.com
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