Three days before news broke of a child sex-abuse investigation involving Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, Trump-loving Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams and an employee of the Israeli consulate began a text-message exchange concerning the FBI probe.
In a bizarre, largely overlooked aspect of the ongoing Gaetz investigation and scandal, Adams and Jake Novak, broadcast media director of the Consulate General of Israel in New York, had apparently become friends on social media, Politico reported Thursday.
"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, adding "told ya" after news of the investigation broke, and decrying claims from Gaetz's father alleging that he and his son had become victims of an "extortion" plot.
Adams responded by repeatedly casting doubt on the allegations against Gaetz and said "the extortion counterclaim sounds credible. Has witnesses apparently."
Novak then suggested he was personally involved in an effort to get $25 million out of Gaetz's father, Don Gaetz, to help free Bob Levinson, an American hostage in Iran whom most intelligence officials believe is dead.
"The backstory is this is screwing up my efforts to free Bob Levinson," Novak wrote. "I've got a commando team leader friend of mine nervously waiting for wire transfers to clear."
Novak later told Adams that "the real documents do not extort. And we only asked for $25 million as an estimate at first. We came way down."
Last month, a federal grand jury indicted Stephen Alford on charges that he tried to defraud Gaetz's father. Alford, a Florida developer, allegedly told Don Gaetz that in return for financing the Levinson rescue effort, he would use his influence to ensure the congressman "receives a presidential pardon, thus alleviating all his legal issues."
"The allegation that a foreign official may be involved in a shakedown scheme of a U.S. congressman — a highly unusual development in its own right — could help provide a fuller picture of a scandal that has captivated the nation's capital but where many pieces are still unknown," Politico reported, adding that while the Israeli official's apparent involvement "doesn't speak to Gaetz' guilt or innocence," it is "concerning."
Ronald E. Neumann, a career former ambassador and president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, told the site: "It's certainly problematic, if it's true. Anytime you have criminal or potential criminal behavior, and somebody who's part of a foreign embassy or consulate, it's a problem."