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.