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The Self-Immolation of (Not So) Young Matt Gaetz

UNITED STATES - MAY 8: Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is seen during a House Judiciary Committee markup in Rayburn Building on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, to vote on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the unredacted Mueller report to the committee. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is seen during a House Judiciary Committee markup on May 8, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)
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March 31, 2021 9:25 a.m.

When I saw the first reports of the Gaetz story I figured he was hooked up with some sleazeball who kept a coterie of young women on hand for his male pals enjoyment. Gaetz partook and got swept up in the investigation of the sleazeball associate. Some version of that seems broadly true and the friend is a disgraced GOP rising star named Joel Greenberg, who was the tax chief in Seminole County before getting indicted for stalking, child sex trafficking and more.

But Gaetz’s performance on TV and Twitter last night makes me think his legal predicament is significantly more serious. Sex with a minor, with money involved and crossing state lines, is certainly bad enough. But these wild claims about good guy and bad guy factions at the DOJ, feds pressuring various friends to testify against him, denials about photographs with underaged girls that no one had at least publicly accused him of yet – these are the flounderings and flailings of a guy wrapped up in something considerably more serious.

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