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Hot Off the Presses: Shanlon Wu weighs in on Matt Gaetz investigation

By June 15, 2021September 2nd, 2021Sexual Assault

If you keep up with this blog, or follow Shan on any social media, you know that Shan is frequently consulted by national news outlets for his insight into pressing news stories as a former federal prosecutor and current defense attorney.

In this week’s update of a series we’re now calling “Hot Off the Presses,” Shan weighs in on recent developments in the Justice Department’s investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz for his alleged involvement sex trafficking.

Below is an overview of Shan’s insight, as well as links to his media appearances.

The Matt Gaetz investigation

Matt Gaetz is a Republican congressman from Florida, notorious for his ardent support of former President Trump and his prominence among the hard-right wing of the Republican Party.

In March, the New York Times reported that the Department of Justice is currently investigating Gaetz’s involvement in an alleged sex trafficking scheme that has been developing over his several years in political office.

Most recently, an ally of Gaetz’s, Joel Greenberg, pleaded guilty to several counts related to sex trafficking as part of a deal to supply information to investigators about Gaetz’s involvement in the activities.

Gaetz has publicly attacked Greenberg, stating he’s “not too worried” about Greenberg because he’s “sitting in jail.” But the bad news hasn’t stopped coming for Gaetz, as his ex-girlfriend agreed to cooperate with investigators as recently as last week.

Shan weighs in on Greenberg’s plea deal and other developments in the investigation

As a former federal prosecutor, and a defense attorney who has worked with clients accused of sexual misconduct, Shan has experience with both sides of this story.

That’s why regular Shan interviewer CNN has reached out to him a number of times for his insight, and other news outlets have quoted him in their coverage of the ongoing investigation.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of Shan’s recent media appearances and references:

  • A CNN interview about Greenberg’s plea deal
  • Another CNN interview about Gaetz’s allies cooperating with investigators
  • An article from news aggregator Inquisitr quoting Shan extensively about Greenberg
  • A Raw Story article also quoting Shan’s insight into Greenberg’s plea deal

Shan’s take on Greenberg’s involvement is that it’s very bad news for Gaetz. Prosecutors rarely cut a deal like this with someone accused of such serious crimes unless he has already provided them with valuable evidence that can be independently corroborated.

And Gaetz’s posturing statements about Greenberg will probably hurt him in the long-run, too. “It’s very, very risky, and I, frankly, think it would prevent him from ever being able to testify on his own behalf,” Shan explained to CNN.

As for the ex-girlfriend, Shan only sees her cooperation as more fuel for the fire. Since she was present at some of the alleged incidents, it’s very possible that she could shed some light on the evidence that investigators already have, providing context about who participated in what activities.

What’s next for the investigation

In his May 22 CNN interview, Shan was asked why the Justice Department seems to be keeping their investigation pretty close to the chest.

He responded by speculating that the prosecutors are probably looking to build a bigger case, beyond just Gaetz’s actions.

He believes this for three reasons:

  • They’re taking longer than would probably be necessary to charge Gaetz alone
  • They’re not releasing any information publicly
  • The Public Integrity section is doing the investigation, rather than the sex crimes section

“I’ve prosecuted both sex crimes and public corruption crimes, and they are very different,” Shan explained. “And these are not sex crimes investigators. They probably are focused on public corruption issues.” 

But he also stated that he hopes the underage victims of this case are not forgotten. “It’s very critical that people be held accountable for these sexual crimes against minors.”