Surprised no one has mentioned this, but Politico revealed that the Matt Gaetz investigation ramped up to another level very quickly. It seems that last winter, as part of their investigation into allegations that Gaetz paid a 17-year-old girl to have sex with him, the feds went as far as to get a search warrant for Florida Man’s iPhone.
Gaetz’s predicament as the subject of a serious investigation became clearer this winter when federal agents executed a search warrant and seized his iPhone, according to interviews with three people who were told of the matter by Gaetz, who changed his phone number in late December. Around that time, the sources said, federal agents also seized his former girlfriend’s phone before she went into work in the morning. She declined comment.
The story focuses on a 2018 trip to the Bahamas that is central to the Gaetz investigation. The alleged victim was also on hand for the trip. While she had turned 18 by that time, according to another woman on the trip, prosecutors are reportedly looking into potential Mann Act violations. Remember, if Gaetz took this girl across state lines and she was paid to have sex, it’s a crime even if she was 18.
But Politico buried the lede. It says a lot that the investigation into Gaetz had already progressed to the point that he was the target of a search warrant in December. Fortunately, HuffPost understood the import of this development, it was the first thing mentioned in HuffPost’s summary of the latest developments in the Gaetz investigation.
How big is this? Remember, senior people in the Justice Department were aware that Gaetz was a target. As we saw during the Richard Burr stock trade investigation, if you’re going to alert people that high on the org chart, you need more than just probable cause. Plus, for separation-of-powers reasons, you need more than probable cause to get a search warrant on a Congressman.
At this point, Kevin McCarthy ought to be at least thinking about telling—not asking—Gaetz to stand down from his committee assignments while this investigation continues. If investigators had enough at this point to get a search warrant, they had good reason to believe there’s a there there.