The access apparently made all the difference.
After firing off a few pleading texts to President Donald Trump’s confidante Roger Stone, alleged child sex trafficker Joel Greenberg reportedly managed to nab a spot on a list of potential pardon recipients that reached the Trump White House.
Stone’s proximity to Trump presented Greenberg’s chance at freedom. Stone and Greenberg had, reportedly, devised a plan to craft a “document” explaining Greenberg’s situation that became part confession letter, part list of demonstrated loyalty to the President.
“Be certain to include your leader ship [sic] for Trump prominently,” Stone reportedly told Greenberg.
By Thursday night, that document had made its way to reporters, creating an incredible scoop for the Daily Beast.
Reporters managed to acquire unprecedented access to not just one — not just two — but three versions of a purported confession letter written by Joel Greenberg… And the Daily Beast has more glorious receipts: Leaked texts published by the outlet show just how close Greenberg got to paying $250,000 in Bitcoin for a proposed sex crimes pardon, and the way in which Greenberg appeared to implicate Gaetz in a sex ring along the way.
Several months of messages from the encrypted texting app Signal between Greenberg and Stone show the two men discussing what sure looks like a pay-for-play pardon that, Greenberg hoped, would end with Stone whispering in the White House’s ear on his behalf.
Greenberg told Stone that he’d “killed” himself for Trump and “for Matt,” and outlined those efforts in versions of the letter reported by the Daily Beast.
Greenberg may not have physically killed for Gaetz, but he did a lot for the congressman — including, according to Greenberg’s reported version of events, compensating women for sex on Gaetz’ behalf.
Referring to a 17-year-old girl, Greenberg reportedly wrote, “On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself.”
“From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18. I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman,” he added.
How do we know all this? There are screenshots!
Signal, as reporters and criminals know, is a helpful resource for keeping sensitive communications secret. It even allows users to set messages to “disappear” so they don’t linger for outsiders’ eyes.
But those protections go out the window if users… take pictures.
That’s apparently just what Greenberg did, despite Stone’s best efforts: At one point, according to the Daily Beast’s Matt Fuller, Stone even adjusted his Signal settings so the messages between him and Greenberg would disappear after 10 seconds. But Greenberg appears to have ensured that the messages would be around for journalists and law enforcement to review later.
The back-and-forth shows a desperate Greenberg detailing law enforcement pressure to Stone, and Stone narrating his pardon efforts to Greenberg.
“Roger, come Jan 21st, I have to do what’s best for me and my family,” Greenberg wrote to Stone in December. (President Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20.) “I know understand. This is my life , I’ve got two young kids. You think MG is going to come visit me in prison?”
He added: “If I get you $250k in Bitcoin would that help or is this not a financial matter.”
“I understand all of this and have taken it into consideration,” Stone replied, saying he would know more within a day but that he couldn’t “push too hard because of the nonsense surrounding pardons.”
“Today is the day,” Stone reportedly told Greenberg on Jan. 13. “We will know by the end of the day. I think you sent me some document but it disappeared. I hope you are prepared to wire me $250,000 because I am feeling confident.”
Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing, and a PR firm for the congressman told the Daily Beast, “Congressman Gaetz has had no role in advocating for or against a pardon for Greenberg and doubts such a pardon was ever even considered.” Greenberg’s attorney Fritz Scheller declined TPM’s request for comment on the report.
Stone — who had scored his own full pardon from Trump days before Christmas — was apparently able to land Greenberg on a list of pardon-seekers as Trump was debating who was most deserving of his final hour clemency power, the Daily Beast reported.
The Daily Beast managed to get its hands on the image of a list with Greenberg’s name on it. That list, the Daily Beast reported, was looked over by the Trump White House as it considered who was deserving of a presidential pardon. The list even reportedly included a mini-profile casting Greenberg in a favorable light.
But Greenberg’s pardon never came. Administration officials shot down Greenberg’s application, the Daily Beast reported. And a reported text from Stone informed Greenberg that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone “killed everything we wanted to get done and that includes stuff MG wanted.”
In text messages to the Daily Beast, Stone confirmed that he had Greenberg prepare “a document explaining his prosecution,” but denied ever seeking a pardon on Greenberg’s behalf.
“I made no formal or informal effort in regard to a pardon for Mr. Greenberg,” Stone reportedly said, adding that he had not requested or received “a penny” from Greenberg. (But what’s a penny in bitcoin?)