Israel has been involved in several stories currently making their way through the US media. The most fascinating tale concerns Republican Party Congressman from Florida Matt Gaetz. Gaetz is a Donald Trump loyalist who has up until recently been touted as the party’s future. Young, photogenic and a “firebrand” defender of GOP priorities, he has been much in the news lately.
Per the New York Times coverage of the current story involving him “The Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz… a close ally of former President Donald Trump, broke federal sex trafficking laws. The inquiry focuses on his relationships with young women who had been recruited online, and whether he had sex with a 17-year-old girl. Investigators believe that he paid for sex with a number of women he met through Joel Greenberg — a former Florida tax collector who was indicted last year on a federal sex trafficking charge, among other offenses… Gaetz has denied paying for sex or sleeping with anyone underage, but it’s clear that the story is far from over. And he’s increasingly isolated: Few Republicans have spoken up in support of him, and today [April 2nd] his own communications director, Luke Ball, resigned.”
There have also been claims that Gaetz, who is engaged but not married, paid for transporting the young woman with whom he had sex across state lines, a federal offense. Reportedly, Gaetz is not well liked by his peers due to his impulsive and even erratic behavior “including a fondness for illicit drugs and younger women” with many considering him to be the proverbial “loose cannon on deck.” CNN reports that “Gaetz had a history of showing off nude photos and videos of women that he said he’d slept with to colleagues on the House floor.”
The Gaetz story also has spawned back stories to the investigation. The Daily Beast is reporting that in April 2018 Matt was involved in a secret midnight visit to the Seminole County Tax Collector’s rooms accompanied by Greenberg, who worked in the office during the day. The two men were recorded on surveillance cameras and they forgot to reset the office alarm, which led to inquiries on the following day that produced a series of text messages in which Greenberg admitted that they had been in the office so he could show the congressman how everything was being done there. They apparently had been going through expired drivers’ licenses, which were stored for disposal in the office.
Greenberg has since lost his job and is being investigated in a “…case has now vastly expanded to a 33-count indictment that includes a diverse list of crimes that range from wire fraud to sex trafficking. Investigators say Greenberg recruited at least one teenager between 14 and 17 years old to engage in a ‘commercial sex act’ between May and November 2017 in Central Florida and elsewhere. Investigators also say that Greenberg used his privileged access to Florida’s drivers’ license database to look up private information on ‘individuals’ with whom he ‘was engaged in “sugar-daddy” relationships.’ Additionally, Greenberg is also accused of making fake IDs—potentially explaining why the 2018 surveillance footage raised concerns that led to that text message conversation handed to investigators.”
What a naughty Gaetz was allegedly up to fits in nicely with what Greenberg was also doing but the fun involving Israel really starts with an apparent extortion scheme linked to the investigation that has involved Gaetz’s father Don, a wealthy former president of the Florida State Senate. Following up on the Gaetz story, the Washington Examiner discovered that Don had been approached by a Florida lawyer named Don McGee who promised that a payment of $25 million would make Matt’s “future legal and political problems go away.” Don Gaetz subsequently contacted the FBI and wore a wire that recorded a second visit made by a former Air Force officer named Bob Kent, who explained that the money would be a loan for “Project Homecoming,” a plan to arrange the liberation of ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson, who is generally believed to be either dead or in prison after an ill-advised somewhat mysterious visit to Iran where he disappeared fourteen years ago.
And then the tale really takes off. The American Conservative magazine has obtained a series of “authenticated” text messages between Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, and Israeli New York Consulate General’s media officer, Jake Novak, which suggest that the Israeli government was associated with both Kent and McGee and might have been behind the extortion. Presumably Israel was prepared to use its political clout with congress and the media to make Matt’s problems go away in return for the funding of a commando raid that would free Levinson and deliver both a blow to Iran and a major propaganda victory for Jerusalem.
Cartoonist Adams’ alleged connection with the Israeli Consulate is not at this point completely clear, though the texts would suggest that he is a trusted contact. An angry Novak, referring to the Times article on the investigation, wrote to him complaining that “The backstory is that this is screwing up my efforts to free Bob Levinson. Gaetz’s dad was secretly f[u]nding us. So I’m very much wanting this to be untrue. I’ve got a commando team leader friend of mine nervously waiting for the wire transfers to clear.” He then goes on to claim that it was not extortion in a legal sense, “The real documents do not extort. And we only asked for $25 million as an estimate at first. We came way down.”
The two men also exchanged their view of the case against Matt Gaetz. Novak wrote “Scoop I can’t report: Rep. Gaetz is the subject of a secret Grand Jury probe of sex with minors and possibly murder conspiracy. I trust the source. Charges/accusations are apparently ‘very credible.’” Adams responds that “The allegations against him do not sound credible” with Novak answering “I don’t want to believe them but my source says it looks bad from closer in.” Adams then texts “I’m betting against it but the extortion counter claim sounds credible. Has witnesses apparently.” Novak concludes that “Now the Gaetz’s have burned Kent AND Levinson.”
If the American Conservative documents are not part of some elaborate hoax, the evidence of how Israel systematically interferes in American politics is yet again clearly visible. One of the most remarkable aspects of the story is the impression that Israeli consulate employee Jake Novak, who sounds somewhat like an intelligence officer, appears to believe that the exposure of the game he was involved in is annoying but no big deal, confident that Israel is never punished by Washington no matter what it does. He also appeared to have inside information on a confidential Justice Department investigation. Beyond that, the possible extortion scheme itself may be based on a possible set-up “honey trap” followed by what amounts to the blackmailing of an American Congressman.
What exactly did the Israeli Consulate’s proxies McGee and Kent have on Matt Gaetz that might have impelled his wealthy father to fund an implausible rescue operation directed against Iran which could easily escalate into a major international incident, possibly even a war? There are clearly documents, recordings and transcripts…will we the public ever see or hear them? If this all begins to smell like the Jeffrey Epstein saga it should and it is just one more good reason not to trust the Israelis on any issue. One wonders if anyone in the FBI or the Joe Biden Administration has the courage to follow this investigation through to wherever it might lead.