Indictment timeframes are the hardest thing to predict, because prosecutors often believe they’re ready to drop the hammer, but then decide to follow one more lead, thus delaying things. But this week’s Matt Gaetz leak suggests prosecutors now want us to expect indictment soon, and want us to expect serious charges.
I say this because if you’re prosecutors, you don’t suddenly put it out there that a child sex crimes prosecutor has been working on Gaetz for the past three months, unless you intend to charge him with child sex crimes. Why build such an expectation otherwise?
If anything, prosecutors now seem to be trying to prepare the public for just how ugly this indictment is going to be, against a fairly high profile member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Not everyone follows all the news. A lot of folks will be shocked by the indictment. They’ll wonder why, in their view, it came out of left field against such a high profile political figure. So it’s better if they leak something and make sure the media is talking about the severity of the likely charges beforehand.
Prosecutors may also be looking to justify why they’ve taken so long to indict Gaetz. They’re not going to speed up their timeframe just because the public is annoyed. But a leak like this, after Gaetz’s smarmy performance during this week’s televised House hearing, screams “the wait will be worth it.”
This is all presuming the DOJ itself is the leak for this story about adding a child crimes prosecutor, and that they purposely put it out there strategically. Assumptions are dangerous. But really, who else besides the DOJ could be the source for this? No one else would have even known about it. Leaks to the media don’t happen because the wind picked up a piece of paper off someone’s desk and put it down in a reporter’s lap. Media leaks like this are done intentionally and strategically by those on the inside who are in the know.
This leak suggests that prosecutors are close to indictment, close enough they want us to start expecting and demanding it, but not quite at the finish line. I say this because before a high profile indictment and arrest happens, there’s usually one last “He’s about to be indicted for these specific crimes” leak to the media, and we haven’t had that one yet.
And yeah, these same prosecutors once leaked to the media that they were planning to indict Gaetz by July; didn’t happen. But now we know that July (three months ago) is when they added a child crimes prosecutor. So it sounds like the evidence they got from Joel Greenberg’s plea deal really did make them decide to dig way deeper into Gaetz.
Even if Gaetz is indicted soon, he won’t magically vanish from the House. Contrary to popular belief, saying the phrase “that shouldn’t be allowed” doesn’t cause things to work differently than they do. But if the charges are ugly enough, House GOP could selfishly decide to force him to resign under threat of expulsion.
These are the same House Republicans who just mostly voted to protect Steve Bannon, so who knows precisely how long they’ll protect Gaetz, all for fear of Trump. But if Gaetz is indicted for child sex trafficking, even Trump will likely say “I’ve never even heard of Matt Gaetz.”
Best case scenario is if House Republicans can’t agree with each other on whether to oust Gaetz, and there’s an actual public expulsion vote. Every House Republican would come out a loser on that one, just by having to vote one way or the other on something so ugly about one of their own.
If the House Republicans vote against expelling Gaetz even after he’s been indicted and arrested for child sex trafficking, it’ll be the biggest gift ever for the Democrats in the midterms. He’d be an albatross around every one of their necks in the eyes of swing voters.
But that’ll be up to House Republicans. They’re letting Jeff Fortenberry stick around after he was criminally indicted this week. But he’s only charged with perjury. And he’s a nobody. Gaetz is one of their biggest faces, and the alleged crimes against him are vomit worthy disgusting.
As some of you have pointed out, Gaetz may not even get bail, if he’s indicted for child sex trafficking. We’ll see. That may come down to which judge gets randomly assigned and so on. If he’s denied bail, House GOP would realistically almost have to expel him. They won’t want headlines about a sitting House Republican who can’t show up and vote because he’s in jail or under house arrest.
But really, most of you just want to know when Matt Gaetz will be in handcuffs. Understandable. But I honestly don’t care that much about the specific timeframe. It’s clearly going to end up happening. Will two weeks from now vs two months from now really matter in the long run? He’s not out there doing daily damage to the fabric of our democracy right now, no matter how many times that narrative gets repeated on social media. By running his mouth, he’s really just making a bigger mess for himself.
Once Gaetz is indicted, it might take another year for his trial. These things drag on forever. Assuming he doesn’t just cut a plea deal of his own against an even bigger fish. But that would be a whole other conversation. There are really only a couple bigger fish in Gaetz’s pond.
Yes, you’re all impatient. But honestly, who cares? Your personal expectation of a timeline is no offense irrelevant. If prosecutors rushed the case to cater to your impatience, and it fell apart, you’d just blame them. And they know it. They’re not going to rush just for you.
Anyway, as of today, prosecutors now seem to want us to start expecting Gaetz to be popped on serious charges fairly soon. They’re (knowingly) ramping up expectations. If the case were falling apart or stalling out, they’d be leaking things to ramp down expectations.
Gaetz has got to be sleeping very poorly tonight. Even if he thinks he can beat the charges at trial, just to be indicted on anything related to child sex crimes would realistically be the end of his political career and his public life.
While we don’t know when Gaetz’s arrest will come, only that it’s coming and likely fairly soon, keep in mind he doesn’t know when it’s coming either. If you’re annoyed at not knowing precisely when he’s going to be dragged off in handcuffs, imagine how he must feel about it.
In reality, Gaetz was toast the minute prosecutors gave Greenberg the plea deal. If you understand how these things work, then you’ve known for months that Gaetz would end up going down at some point. So there’s no suspense for you when it comes to that, and your reaction to his arrest will be “Oh good, the thing that was obviously going to end up happening has happened.” Those who don’t get how these things really work are the only ones who still think there’s suspense involved about whether Gaetz will go down.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet