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Matt Gaetz's travel to Bahamas draws investigators' scrutiny

Investigators are now reportedly examining Gaetz's travel to the Bahamas with women and specifically whether those women were paid to travel for sex.
Image: Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., at the Capitol Visitor Center on June 10, 2020.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., at the Capitol Visitor Center on June 10, 2020.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

For a politician caught up in a damaging scandal, it's generally preferable when all the bad news comes out at once. The alternative is known as the "drip, drip" phenomenon -- in reference to a leaky faucet -- in which new revelations emerge slowly, generating new headlines and causing fresh political damage.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is experiencing this problem right now.

The Florida Republican's trouble started nine days ago when we learned that the Justice Department is investigating the congressman over allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a minor, possibly violating federal sex trafficking laws in the process. Things got a little worse soon after, amid reports of Gaetz's GOP colleagues turning on him.

The New York Times advanced the story late last week with a report on federal investigators focusing attention on Gaetz's alleged "involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex" in exchange for, among other things, drugs.

This week, there was fresh reporting that Gaetz "privately asked the White House for blanket pre-emptive pardons for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed," despite the congressman's earlier claims to the contrary.

And then yesterday, the Florida Republican, who continues to deny any criminal wrongdoing, was confronted with yet another report about the scope of the investigation into his activities.

Federal investigators are looking into Rep. Matt Gaetz's travel to the Bahamas with women and specifically whether those women were paid to travel for sex, which could violate federal law, a law enforcement official and another person familiar with the matter said. Investigators are also looking into whether Gaetz, R-Fla., and one of his associates used the internet to search for women they could pay for sex, the sources said.

CBS News, which was first to report on this angle to the story, added that the alleged Bahamas trip was in late 2018 or early 2019, and investigators are specifically examining whether the Republican congressman "violated sex trafficking laws."

The CBS News report went on to note that Gaetz was on the alleged trip "with a marijuana entrepreneur and hand surgeon named Jason Pirozzolo, who allegedly paid for the travel expenses, accommodations, and female escorts." (Just to clarify, the marijuana entrepreneur and hand surgeon are the same person, not two separate people.)

The piece added, "Investigators are trying to determine if the escorts were illegally trafficked across state or international lines for the purpose of sex with the congressman."

And then, of course, as Rachel explained on the show last night, there's Joel Greenberg, an almost comically scandalous figure, who has been indicted on a variety of crimes, "including sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl." It was the investigation into Greenberg that reportedly led to scrutiny of Gaetz, since the two Florida Republicans are close friends.

Politico reported this week, "The two shared more than one girlfriend, according to interviews with eight friends and associates who know the two men. Gaetz described Greenberg as a 'wingman' to some acquaintances, and even promoted him as a potential congressional candidate. Now some suspect Greenberg might be cooperating with prosecutors to build a case against Gaetz."

Drip, drip, drip....