Despite the legal cloud hanging over him, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) won his primary on Tuesday and will be on the ballot in November. He is also expected to win re-election.
But that victory will likely be pyrrhic, as a new report from The Daily Beast reveals the main federal prosecutor working on the sex trafficking case against Gaetz is being incredibly “methodical” and is expected to unseal any indictments against the congressman after the midterm elections.
Lyle Mazin, a criminal defense attorney who represents a witness in the case, told The Daily Beast that the quiet should not be misconstrued as reluctance on the part of Roger Handberg, a federal prosecutor who led the local team conducting the investigation and now leads the Florida Middle District U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“He’s methodical. He doesn’t let anything go,” Mazin said. “If you’re going after a monster, you have to get it right—especially when you have a bunch of Trump supporters who’ll come after you.”
Indictments and plea deals have already been reached with key figures in the sex trafficking probe, and the person who can do the most damage to Gaetz — former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, who is known as Gaetz’s “wingman” — continues to provide a road map that investigators are following as they get closer to charging the congressman.
Any charges, however, won’t be filed before the election on November 8:
That day, if it comes, is likely still months off. Two attorneys said prosecutors will take extreme steps to avoid the appearance of interfering with the midterms, and expected any announcements involving Gaetz would likely come several weeks after the November election.
The slow nature of the investigation has frustrated some who are cooperating with prosecutors, though they say they remain optimistic the delay will result in making sure Gaetz pays the price for his alleged crimes:
“We know for a fact that there are dozens of other actors who were involved in drug-fueled sex parties with underage girls and other criminal financial schemes. If at the end of the day only two or three people are held to account by the feds, that would be a real miscarriage of justice and transparency,” said David Bear, an Orlando attorney who has advised several people who would consider themselves victims of Greenberg’s abuse of power while in office.
After he was victorious on Tuesday, Gaetz told family and friends he expected to win in November and return to the House where he would be part of a group of “Republicans with a will to fight and a backbone.”
But even if he is re-elected, Gaetz is facing a “fight” that will take a hell of a lot more than backbone and fiery rhetoric to win.