By now, the major contours of the ongoing scandal engulfing Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz are pretty well established: As the wealthy scion of Florida's Republican Party, the onetime (and perhaps still) rising star of the MAGA movement allegedly made a name for himself as a pill-popping, womanizing creep, who is believed to have paid for sex – including, crucially, with a 17-year-old girl, for which he is now reportedly being investigated by the Department of Justice.
That's the scandal in broad strokes. But with each passing week and every new revelation, the growing picture of Gaetz's alleged conduct comes into sharper and more disgusting relief. Which brings us to this week's report from The Daily Beast, which offers clear, written documentation from Gaetz's self-proclaimed "wingman" that the congressman both had sex with a child, and that he continued to do so after she turned 18 even after learning they'd been intimate when she was a minor.
In confession letters drafted by Joel Greenberg, a former Florida county tax collector who has been indicted for a host of crimes including sex trafficking, Greenberg — hoping to receive some form of clemency or pardon from then-President Donald Trump — detailed how he and Gaetz had slept with the 17-year-old, believing her to have been 19 and thus a legal adult, until an "anonymous tip" informed them of her true age.
"Immediately I called the congressman and warned him to stay clear of this person and informed him she was underage," Greenberg wrote in the letter, obtained by The Daily Beast. "He was equally shocked and disturbed by this revelation."
Greenberg claims that he confronted the girl, who has remained anonymous throughout this scandal, and warned her "how serious of a situation this was, how many people she put in danger."
According to the letter, the girl apologized, and, appallingly, "there was no further contact with this individual until after her 18th birthday."
Please take a moment to read that sentence again, and let it fully sink in that Greenberg is saying that he and Gaetz slept with a child, learned she was a child, blamed her for putting them in danger, and then waited a few months to sleep with her again. Indeed, this is the same woman who, per earlier reports, Gaetz instructed Greenberg to "hit up" along with a digital payment of $900, shortly after her 18th birthday.
The letters — and corroborating screenshots of encrypted texts between Greenberg and longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone — came as part of an effort by Greenberg to secure some sort of legal amnesty from the Trump administration during the free-for-all fire sale on pardons in the waning months of Trump's term. Greenberg was apparently hoping Stone could help him secure a pardon, and the texts acquired by The Daily Beast seem to show Stone working on Greenberg's behalf — as well as telling Greenberg that Gaetz had declined to help the cause, despite his notably close relationship with Trump. Stone, however, told The Daily Beast that he had never participated in any effort, "formal or informal," to help Greenberg secure a pardon from Trump.
Gaetz has long denied any allegation of wrongdoing, claiming that "someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward" when news of the DOJ investigation into his personal life first became public. However, with the publication of Greenberg's letters, coupled with the fact that Greenberg will reportedly agree to a plea deal with prosecutors, it's hard not to agree with Greenberg's attorney, Fritz Scheller, who put it simply when his client started cooperating with authorities: "I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today."