Florida GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz got more "bad news" this week about an ongoing federal investigation into whether he sex-trafficked a minor, according to Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg.
On Wednesday, the Daily Beast reported that a cooperating witness — “Big Joe” Ellicott— was present during a 2017 phone call Gaetz received from his "wingman," Joel Greenberg, allegedly alerting the congressman that he'd had sex with an underage girl. Elllicott is the longtime best friend of Greenberg, who is also cooperating with investigators.
"It's bad news for Matt Gaetz," Aronberg told MSNBC on Thursday night. "I think he thought that because there was a delay in this case, it was taking forever, that there was light at the end of the tunnel, but it turns out that the light was just an oncoming train."
"This is bad for him, but I think it's worse that the ex-girlfriend testified before the grand jury," Aronberg added, referring to another recent bombshell in the case.
"She really is the linchpin between Matt Gaetz and child sex trafficking and the Mann Act, which says you can't transport individuals across state and federal Iines for the purposes of prostitution, and witness tampering," Aronberg said.
MSNBC host Ari Melber asked why Ellicott's secondhand account of Greenberg's phone call to Gaetz is important if investigators "have underlying better actual evidence, rather than just discussion."
"The feds don't want their key witnesses to just be Joel Greenberg, who is a walking criminal enterprise, and the then 17-year-old girl, who lied about her age, and had a profile on SeekingArangements.com, and then became an adult film star," Aronberg responded. "And not to bash anyone's choice of profession, but let me tell you, juries don't like that profile."
"So they're looking for corroboration, and I think that's why this whole thing has been taking so long, and now they have someone who was in the room when it happened — at least the room where the phone call happened," Aronberg said.
"And why is Joel Greenberg calling Matt Gaetz with 'mayday, mayday' because he just found out that this girl was underage? Well, you can then surmise that it's because they both were with this girl inappropriately," Aronberg said. "But the key witness here is the ex-girlfriend, who has no ax to grind with Matt Gaetz. They had an open relationship. She doesn't have major credibility issues. She used to be a Capitol Hill staffer, and she could be the key witness, because when you go before a grand jury, it's not a place for minor details, but it is a place for details about minors."
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