If nothing else, the Joel Greenberg-Matt Gaetz saga will at least prove a cautionary tale on paper trails and electronic messaging. The Daily Beast reports that it has three versions of a confession by the Florida political fixer that he had paid for sex with a 17-year-old girl, one in hand-written form that matches other public documents from Greenberg. In the same documents, Greenberg admits passing money to the same girl on behalf of Gaetz for services rendered:
A confession letter written by Joel Greenberg in the final months of the Trump presidency claims that he and close associate Rep. Matt Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women—as well as a girl who was 17 at the time.
“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,” Greenberg wrote in reference to the 17-year-old.
“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.”
The letter, which The Daily Beast recently obtained, was written after Greenberg—who was under federal indictment—asked Roger Stone to help him secure a pardon from then-President Donald Trump.
Greenberg got Stone involved after realizing the depth of his legal problems. According to TDB, the two used Signal to negotiate representation for a presidential pardon, with Greenberg offering “$250K in Bitcoin” to Stone to get a pardon from Donald Trump. Stone told him that he “felt confident” in his ability to convince Trump to sign a pardon, and told Greenberg that “I hope you are prepared to wire me $250,000[.]”
These messages should have autodeleted in Signal. Instead, Jose Pagliery and Roger Sollenberger report, someone took screenshots of the message thread. And that someone appears to be Greenberg, although they hedge that claim slightly with the word “appears.” Why would someone use Signal — a messaging platform that autodeletes messages — and then screencap the exchanges?
As for the alleged sex partner, Greenberg’s confession explains that she lied about her age. At that point, Greenberg warned Gaetz not to have any more contact with her, and “confronted” the 17-year-old over the matter. As soon as she turned 18, however…
“She apologized and recognized that by lying about her age, she endangered many people,” he continued. “There was no further contact with this individual until after her 18th birthday.”
But after she reached the age of legal consent in Florida, Greenberg re-established contact. As The Daily Beast previously reported, about five months after her 18th birthday, Gaetz sent Greenberg $900 in two Venmo transactions—one titled “Test” and the other titled “hit up ___.” The blank contained a nickname for this girl, and Greenberg paid her and two other women a total of $900 about six hours later.
In his confession letter, Greenberg also admitted he facilitated Gaetz’s interactions with college students—and paid them on his behalf.
“All of the girls were in college or post college and it was not uncommon for either myself or the Congressman to help anyone [sic] of these girls financially, whether it was a car payment, a flight home to see their family or something as simple as helping pay a speeding ticket,” Greenberg wrote.
We’ve already heard about these Venmo transactions. If the Greenberg confessions/admissions are legit, it’s the first time that it’s been linked specifically to sexual encounters with the underage girl, although this timeline would put it in a timeframe of adulthood. As I wrote at the time, it’s an incredibly stupid sequence that nonetheless answers a few questions, if legit:
This is what’s known as “following the money.” In this case, it’s also following a paper trail which, if on the level, demonstrates incredible stupidity on the part of both men. If true, the two must have thought they’d be above investigation, a kind of impunity that unfortunately is none too rare around Capitol Hill. However, it might explain why Gaetz reportedly began asking White House staff about a “blanket pardon” late last year, and why he might have been interested in shifting to a media career rather than sticking around in Congress.
So … how much of this should we believe? Gaetz’ office is still sending out denials, and so far the only person charged in this scandal has been Greenberg. His legal team has signaled that they want to cut a plea deal, which one might expect when a client faces dozens of federal charges. However, given Greenberg’s earlier attempts to frame a political rival, Greenberg may not have much value to offer as a witness, even against a former political crony. The leak of these messages and confessions could still be a way to press the feds to cut him a deal, although if they aren’t legit they’re going to add considerably to Greenberg’s legal woes.
One interesting point in assessing credibility: Stone isn’t denying these messaging conversations took place. He’s challenging the idea that he was seriously negotiating to help out Greenberg, but not denying the messaging that someone screen-capped at the time. Those messages explicitly involve and implicate “MG” and “Matt,” for what it’s worth. Stay tuned.