Rep. Matt Gaetz's assembled lineup of high-profile, out-of-state defense attorneys suggests the Florida Republican is expecting a criminal trial to result from the ongoing FBI investigation into whether he sex-trafficked a minor, legal experts told the Daily Beast for a story published Monday.
The experts also said an apparent lull in the Gaetz investigation, which was first made public in March, doesn't indicate innocence or a lack of charges — as Gaetz would have people believe. Rather, the lull could suggest that prosecutors are considering "a wide range of charges" or that the allegations against him will be "extremely grave and complex."
"If you were looking for an indication of just how seriously Gaetz himself is taking the prospect of charges, look no further than the high-powered team of attorneys the beleaguered Florida man has brought on for his defense," the Daily Beast reported.
While the federal investigation is being handled in Orlando, Florida — Gaetz's home state — the congressman and his campaign have hired three high-powered attorneys from New York City. They include Marc Mukasey, a popular MAGA-world figure who has defended the Trump Organization in several high-profile disputes, as well as New York trial attorney Marc Fernich, who has represented the likes of child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.
"It looks like a scorched-earth approach," former assistant New York attorney general Tristan Snell told the Daily Beast. "These are all big out-of-town lawyers. If your goal is to resolve something, you typically hire the top criminal defense attorney in the district, someone who's a repeat customer there and has a good working relationship with that U.S. Attorney's office. But these attorneys can go down there, burn down the building, and not have to worry about going back in the next day."
"Based on hiring these attorneys, I think he could be taking an aggressive approach, to try to shred the credibility of the prosecution, perhaps turn the tables and put them on trial," Snell said, adding that Gaetz's instincts remind him of former president Donald Trump — "fighting back with hyperbolic allegations of extortion, a 'deep state' plot, and a politically motivated prosecution."
Barb McQuade, a former federal prosecutor who's now a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, agreed that Gaetz appears to be taking a "scorched-earth" approach.
"It may be effective in the court of public opinion, but rarely effective in a court of law," McQuade said.
According to the Daily Beast, Gaetz faces a range of possible allegations, including sex trafficking a minor, obstruction of justice, campaign finance violations and a sweeping political influence scheme.
Relatives and friends gathered Sunday at the funeral service for a young American woman whose disappearance and killing on a cross-country road trip made international headlines, as a manhunt intensifies for her boyfriend.
The family of Gabby Petito reported the 22-year-old missing on September 11 after not hearing from her since August.
Her body was found last Sunday in the western state of Wyoming, near where the white camper van she and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, were traveling in was reported seen.
Petito's death has since been ruled a homicide. Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Laundrie over fraudulent use of a credit card and have broadened their search for the 23-year-old, who remains at large.
Petito and Laundrie visited several of the West's state and national parks, chronicling their journey through the awe-inspiring landscapes on Instagram and YouTube.
Petito's father, who opened Sunday's funeral service in Holbrook, New York to the public, urged Americans not to be saddened by his daughter's tragic death, but motivated by her brief, adventurous life.
"When you leave here today, be inspired by what she brought to the table -- because the entire planet knows this woman's name now," Joe Petito said. "I couldn't be more proud as a father."
A live feed of the service showed loved ones hugging in front of bouquets of flowers and large photographs of Gabby Petito. Dozens of police and other first responders were seen lining up to enter the funeral home.
Broadway on Sunday finally honored its best and brightest at the Tony Awards, more than a year late due to the coronavirus pandemic, with jukebox musical "Moulin Rouge!" sweeping the competition with 10 trophies.
The event took on a new look this year: most of the awards were handed out in a two-hour ceremony livestreamed before the main event -- a concert celebrating the return of live theater in New York after an 18-month hiatus.
"Everyone here is vaxxed and tested, and everyone is wearing a mask -- every Broadway theater is going to look like this for a while and that's ok," host Leslie Odom Jr said at the start of the concert gala at the Winter Garden Theatre.
"Moulin Rouge! The Musical" -- a stage adaptation of the popular 2001 Baz Luhrmann film of the same name about the famed Paris nightclub -- won for best musical, best actor and best actor in a featured role, as well as a host of technical honors.
The cast served up a colorful, sassy medley of hits from the show at their home theater, as did the cast of "Jagged Little Pill," a musical inspired by Alanis Morissette's seminal 1995 album of the same name.
Adrienne Warren, who won the Tony for best actress in a musical for her portrayal of Tina Turner in "Tina," gave a rousing performance with her castmates.
The concert also featured classic duets from popular musicals "Rent," "Wicked," "Ragtime" and "Hamilton," featuring a stream of Broadway A-listers.
The Tony for best play went to "The Inheritance," a reimagining of the E.M. Forster novel "Howards End" set in modern-day New York. The play won a total of four awards, including best director for Stephen Daldry.
"A Soldier's Play," a look at racism in the US military, won the award for best revival of a play -- and also scored an acting trophy for David Alan Grier, one of several first-time winners of the night.
A revival of "A Christmas Carol" took home five prizes.
'Broadway is back'
This year's honors were a bit different -- the number of shows eligible to compete for the 2019-2020 season was pared back considerably when the Great White Way was forced to shut down as the pandemic took hold, especially in New York.
Several shows have recently reopened, with more to come in the next few months.
"Broadway is back, and it must and it will be better," actress Audra McDonald, a six-time winner and a nominee again this year, said as she hosted the early ceremony.
In a quirky result, Aaron Tveit took home the prize for best actor in a musical for "Moulin Rouge" -- he was the only nominee but needed to earn 60 percent of votes to win. He choked up as he accepted his award, his first Tony.
"We are so privileged to get to do this, to be on Broadway," he said.
Among the other first-time winners was Lois Smith, who won for best actress in a featured role in a play for "The Inheritance" -- at age 90. She is the oldest performer ever to win a Tony for acting.
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