As Allahpundit pointed out earlier, both Matt Gaetz and his father Don have provided documentation that backs up their claims about working with the FBI to investigate what Gaetz is calling an extortion plot. But it’s not clear how the people who made the offer to Gaetz would have had any influence over the investigation he’s facing. So how can there be a quid pro quo on offer if the person making the offer can’t deliver anything? A story published this afternoon by the Washington Post offers some more details about what exactly the people who contacted Don Gaetz were proposing. It involved an effort to secure the release of an American hostage held in Iran.
The men had learned of the investigation, they wrote to Don Gaetz, and wanted to offer an opportunity to help his son, the people said. He could give a huge sum of money to fund their effort to locate Robert A. Levinson — the longest held American hostage in Iran whose family has said they were told he is dead. If the operation was a success, he would win favor with the U.S. government and help alleviate Matt Gaetz’s legal woes…
The men who approached Gaetz’s father, people familiar with the matter said, had no apparent connection to the sex crimes investigation of his son, other than having somehow learned about it before it was publicly reported…
Substantiating criminal charges in the extortion probe could be difficult, people familiar with the matter said, noting that, when the two men — who have not been identified — first contacted Don Gaetz, they did not explicitly threaten to expose the congressman unless they were paid. Even if investigators do come to believe there was an attempt to extort the Gaetz family, it appears connected to the sex-crimes investigation only because the men involved discovered it and used it as leverage for personal purposes, people familiar with the matter said.
The request that Gaetz donate money to maybe eventually win favor with the FBI does sound like an extremely sketchy plan. As mentioned above, Levinson may well be dead and $25 million is a lot of money to (maybe) find a body. The fact that this offer was conveyed with reference to the ongoing investigation into Gaetz does make it tantamount to blackmail. As a public figure, Gaetz had to worry the person asking for money could conceivably leak the story to the media. So there an implied threat in the way this was communicated.
Whether or not they can get a conviction based on that is another matter. The way this was put forward, as an offer to get Gaetz out of trouble rather than into it, was pretty clever. The threat may have been implied but it apparently wasn’t verbalized.
However, the real issue for Gaetz is that the FBI investigation into his behavior seems to have preceded the offer/blackmail attempt. In other words, even if everything Gaetz is saying is true, it doesn’t change the fact that he really was under investigation by the FBI for possible sex with a minor before someone tried to use that fact against him. Other people could even wind up going to jail and still that doesn’t mean Gaetz is in the clear. The underlying issue is still being looked at by the DOJ. Unless he’s actually innocent of those allegations, the rest won’t help him.