While federal investigators probe allegations that Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz engaged in a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl and other possible crimes, the firebrand lawmaker has armed himself with three of New York City's top attorneys.
That could mean he's expecting to face a criminal trial despite insisting himself that he's innocent, experts claim in a Daily Beast report released Monday morning.
'The fact he’s hiring trial lawyers would suggest that they are preparing for a trial, not a negotiation,' ex-federal prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks told the outlet.
No recent news has come out of the ongoing investigation, which was first revealed in late March.
Gaetz, who has blamed deep state corruption and extortion attempts for the scandal, frequently points out that he hasn't been charged with anything written in the explosive headlines that trailed him months earlier.
'Although Gaetz and his allies like to interpret the lack of charges as an indication of innocence, the delays could just as easily suggest that the charges that could be coming down the pike are extremely grave and complex,' the report notes.
With his trio of high-powered lawyers, Gaetz joins client rosters that include his close ally Donald Trump and his family, as well as Jeffrey Epstein and drug lord El Chapo.
Rep. Matt Gaetz has denied the range of allegations facing him and said they were the work of deep state operatives and parties trying to extort him
'Based on hiring these attorneys, I think he could be taking an aggressive approach, to try to shred the credibility of the prosecution, perhaps turn the tables and put them on trial,' ex-assistant AG in New York Tristan Snell told the Daily Beast.
Representing Gaetz personally is Trump Organization lawyer Marc Mukasey, who is famously defending the president's family business in the Southern District of New York's criminal financial probe.
His ties to Trump's circle go back decades, with a close connection to Rudy Giuliani. Mukasey's father was once a US attorney and was close friends with the former NYC mayor.
Mukasey has been reported to be a protégé of Giuliani's.
A popular attorney in conservative circles, Mukasey also successfully argued a war crimes case for Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher who was accused of murdering an Iraqi teenager.
Marc Mukasey, who's represented the Trump Organization and members of the Trump family, is one of two lawyers personally representing Gaetz (pictured: Mukasey reacts to the acquittal of his former client, Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was charged with premeditated murder in the killing of an Iraqi teen)
Mukasey is also defense counsel for Jared Kushner friend and former Observer editor Ken Kurson. Kurson was charged in New York in August for allegedly spying on his ex-wife. He was pardoned by Trump for similar transgressions months earlier.
But the report notes that Mukasey has stepped back from Trump as he's joined Gaetz's team. He was retained by the Florida lawmaker in April and as recently as last week, he withdrew from Eric Trump's civil defense team in the New York State probe with no explanation.
Attorney Marc Fernich, who represented Epstein until his death, was retained by Matt Gaetz's official campaign committee, Friends of Matt Gaetz, in June.
Fernich made headlines after the convicted pedophile's suicide when he blamed 'overzealous prosecutors' and a 'hysterical press corps' for his death in custody.
His client list also includes incarcerated drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, sex trafficker and NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere and two heads of the Gambino crime family in New York.
New York trial lawyer Marc Fernich is representing Gaetz's campaign committee, Friends of Matt Gaetz
A courtroom sketch showes Fernich (right) alongside his former client Jeffrey Epstein
Fernich's website makes it clear he's well-versed in representing clients in sex crimes cases, but as the report notes, he doesn't appear to have any campaign finance experience - another charge possibly facing Gaetz.
Criminal defense attorney Isabelle Kirshner is joining Mukasey in representing Gaetz personally.
A partner at Clayman & Rosenberg LLP, Kirshner's legal bio states she has three decades' experience practicing law. She represented a number of defendants in 'a wide range of criminal matters including investigations and prosecutions relating to securities fraud, money laundering, bank fraud, tax fraud, as well as distribution of crystal methamphetamine, opioids, and allegations of sexual misconduct.'
Isabelle Kirschner is the second attorney personally representing Gaetz. She previously was hired by ex-New York AG Eric Schneiderman, who was accused of assault
Kirshner represented ex-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after he was accused of violent assault by multiple women who claim to have had romantic relationships with the liberal official. Schneiderman's alleged crimes were never prosecuted.
She also represented Robert Hadden, a gynecologist who was accused of sexually assaulting his patients including the wife of 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
Former New York assistant AG Snell said Gaetz's trio of lawyers indicate the embattled congressman is taking a 'scorched-earth approach.'
'These are all big out-of-town lawyers. If your goal is to resolve something, you typically hire the top criminal defense attorney in the district, someone who’s a repeat customer there and has a good working relationship with that US Attorney’s office,' he said.
'But these attorneys can go down there, burn down the building, and not have to worry about going back in the next day.'
The aggressive strategy draws parallels to Trump's aggressive, bombastic defenses of himself.
Former federal prosecutor Barb McQuade agreed but doubted the strategy would be successful for Gaetz, a staunch supporter of the former president.
'It may be effective in the court of public opinion, but rarely effective in a court of law,' McQuade said.
Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty to charges reportedly connected to the probe into the embattled Florida congressman
Gaetz is facing a number of allegations that include sex trafficking, prostitution, obstruction of justice, campaign finance violations and a number of other corruption claims.
He wrote in an April op-ed, 'My personal life is and always has been conducted on my own time and my own dime. Consensual adult relationships are not illegal. Although I’m sure some partisan crooks in Merrick Garland’s Justice Department want to pervert the truth and the law to go after me, I will not be intimidated or extorted.'
Prosecutors' investigation looked like it was ramping up when Gaetz's associate Joel Greenberg, a former Florida official, pleaded guilty in May to charges including sex trafficking the teenager Gaetz is accused of having a relationship with.
He pleaded guilty to six of the nearly three dozen charges he faced, including sex trafficking of a minor, and he admitted that he had paid at least one underage girl to have sex with him and other men.
Greenberg agreed to cooperate with federal authorities, which his attorney hinted could be a problem for Gaetz's defense - although the congressman's name wasn't brought up in court that day.
'I'm sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,' Greenberg's lawyer Fritz Scheller said ahead of the plea deal.