Here’s what we know about the 2 prominent lawyers Rep. Matt Gaetz hired in federal sex-trafficking probe

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, in Washington.

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz has secured help in fighting a federal sexual misconduct probe, hiring two high-profile lawyers, Mark Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, to defend him.
  • Officials are trying to determine whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl or violated sex-trafficking laws.
  • Mukasey is a longtime associate of Rudy Giuliani’s who also has close ties to former President Donald Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Embroiled in a federal sex-trafficking investigation, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida has hired two topdog defense attorneys to represent him.

The lawyers, Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, come as a probe into Gaetz intensifies.

The House Ethics Committee on Friday announced an investigation into Gaetz over allegations of sexual misconduct. A bombshell New York Times report released last week revealed that Gaetz is facing a federal sex crimes investigation, a probe designed to determine whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Officials are also seeking to learn whether he had violated sex-trafficking laws.

The Florida Republican has not been charged, and he’s repeatedly denied all allegations. Instead, he’s pushed a narrative that says the federal investigation and these allegations make up an elaborate and convoluted scheme to extort him and his family for $25 million.

“Once again, the office will reiterate, these allegations are blatantly false and have not been validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them,” Gaetz’s office said in a statement Friday.

The probe, nevertheless, is heating up. And Gaetz hired well-connected powerhouse attorneys to help him navigate through the mess.

The attorneys “will take the fight to those trying to smear his name with falsehoods,” a statement from his office said.

Marc Mukasey

Mukasey is a high-profile attorney with close ties to former President Donald Trump and his ex-personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Mukasey and Giuliani used to be law partners. After they split ways, one of Mukasey’s first clients was Trump himself. He currently represents the Trump Organization in an ongoing criminal probe into the former president’s tax returns conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

One of Mukasey’s most controversial cases involved Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, accused and acquitted of charges related to war crimes.

Mukasey’s career and that of his father have for years closely intertwined with the needs of top GOP leaders.

His father, Michael, was a district judge appointed by Ronald Reagan, Law&Crime reported. He also served as the US attorney general under the George W. Bush administration.

Isabelle Kirshner

Kirshner is an outspoken critic of Trump, constantly blasting him in public. She’s previously referred to the former president as a “scourge” and an “existential threat,” according to Law&Crime.

As an attorney, her record is marked in part by male clients who’ve faced serious sexual abuse and misconduct allegations.

She is a former Manhattan assistant district attorney who represented former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after allegations of sexual assault and violence against him came out. Schneiderman denied all allegations but resigned from his position.

Kirshner’s also represented Dr. Robert Hadden, the New York gynecologist accused of sexual assault. Among his accusers was Evelyn Wang, the wife of now New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang. Evelyn said Hadden had sexually assaulted her multiple times during an OB-GYN visit while she was pregnant with her first child.

Hadden was charged last September with a pattern of sexual assault and abuse spanning decades, from 1993 to 2012.

Neither Mukasey nor Kirshner immediately returned requests for comment from Insider.

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‘He’s got 3 major buckets of s— going on here’: Audio of a meeting with New York Dems reveals deep division in the state legislature over impeaching Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo resign billboard
A billboard urging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign is seen near downtown on March 2, 2021 in Albany, New York.

  • Audio of a March 11 meeting obtained by Yahoo News revealed New York State Assembly members divided on Cuomo.
  • Some members pushed back on the decision to launch a probe instead of formal impeachment proceedings.
  • The investigation will be led by the New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Audio of a March 11 video conference with New York Democrats revealed tension between state lawmakers on how to move forward amid Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual misconduct scandal, Yahoo News reported Tuesday.

On March 11, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, discussed opening an investigation in the New York governor amid mounting claims of sexual misconduct from multiple women, according to the audio obtained by Yahoo News.

He described to his colleagues his reasoning behind his decision to launch a probe into the scandal instead of formal impeachment proceedings, Yahoo News reported.

“I try to come up with something that’s best for the body,” Heastie said during the meeting, according to the Yahoo News report. “Everybody might not love it, everybody may not like it, but I try to get us to a comfortable place that protects the integrity of this house.”

He maintained that launching an investigation first was by “due process,” saying that “people get accused of things.”

“These days any one of us in this place could be accused,” he said during the call, Yahoo News reported.

Assemblyman José Rivera agreed with Heastie, adding that, as elected officials, anyone on the New York Assembly could also be embroiled in a scandal.

Heastie later publicly announced an impeachment investigation soon after the meeting. The probe will be led by the New York Assembly Judiciary Committee, which will also look into allegations that the state under-reported COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and scrutiny surrounding faults in a bridge construction project.

“He’s got three major buckets of s— going on here,” Assemblyman John McDonald said, according to the Yahoo News report. McDonald showed support for Heastie’s plan on the call, Yahoo News reported.

At one point during the call, Heastie acknowledged that the New York State Assembly remained divided on how best to move forward with the emerging scandal involving the governor – “those who want to leave it to state Attorney General Tish James to investigate Cuomo’s conduct, those who hope the governor will step down, and the group that wants to see him impeached,” according to the Yahoo News report.

Other members of the New York State Assembly pushed back on Heastie’s decision to open the impeachment probe instead of formal proceedings.

New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim echoed the sentiment on the call, according to Yahoo News, saying: “We have a moral duty, a constitutional duty, to remove him from office if he does not resign.”

“We can punt it, but everyone now is watching every single thing we do,” Kim, who is an outspoken critic of the New York governor, continued. “We can make excuses, we can do a number of different things, but we know what’s going on. We know what the truth is.”

However, Yahoo News reported that many on the call supported his decision to move forward with an investigation led by the New York Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Representatives from Heastie’s office and Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

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The Lincoln Project condemns co-founder John Weaver after allegations of sexual misconduct towards young men

john weaver
John McCain (L) looks over some documents with then-campaign advisor John Weaver (R) while flying from Virginia Beach to Bismarck, North Dakota on February 28, 2000.

The Lincoln Project condemned its co-founder John Weaver after 21 men alleged he sent them unsolicited sexual overtures online. 

“John Weaver led a secret life that was built on a foundation of deception at every level. He is a predator, a liar, and an abuser. We extend our deepest sympathies to those who were targeted by his deplorable and predatory behavior,” the group said in a statement.

The New York Times reported f Sunday that 21 men have alleged Weaver sent them unsolicited and sexually provocative messages, including at one point to a 14-year-old boy. He sent overt sexual solicitations to at least 10 of the men over a period of years.

Weaver allegedly asked Cole Trickle Miele about his body when he was 14, but asked more direct questions after he turned 18. 

Miele had followed Weaver on Twitter in 2015 and immediately got a private message from him but didn’t think anything was strange about the situation. 

“I remember being a 14-year-old kid interested in politics and being semi-starstruck by John Weaver engaging in a conversation with me,” Miele told the Times. 

None of the men accused him of unlawful conduct. The messages led to just one consensual encounter, the Times reported. 

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Weaver also offered professional help in exchange for sex, telling one man he would “spoil you when we see each other,” the Times reported. 

“Help you other times. Give advice, counsel, help with bills. You help me…sensually,” Weaver allegedly wrote. 

Weaver was a former advisor to the late Senator John McCain and in 2019 co-founded The Lincoln Project, a group of GOP operatives who opposed former President Donald Trump. They achieved notoriety last year for campaigning against Trump and his allies, with billboards in New York City mocking Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

Earlier this month, Axios reported that men had accused Weaver of sending inappropriate messages. 

At the time, Weaver told Axios: “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you.” 

“The truth is that I’m gay,” Weaver added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

Read more: Vaccine inequity on Capitol Hill: Members of Congress got their shots but essential Hill workers are still left waiting

Weaver took a “medical leave of absence” from the group last summer and “will not be returning to the group,” Axios said earlier this month. 

In their statement, The Lincoln Project said it was grateful Weaver was never around other members.

“The totality of his deceptions are beyond anything any of us could have imagined and we are absolutely shocked and sickened by it. Like so many, we have been betrayed and deceived by John Weaver,” the group said. “We are grateful beyond words that at no time was John Weaver in the physical presence of any member of The Lincoln Project.”

However, Ryan Girdusky, a writer for  The American Conservative who first reported on the allegations on January 11, told The Washington Post that the group’s statement was false and The Lincoln Project has known about the allegations since last year. 

The Lincoln Project did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Co-founder Steve Schmidt told the Times that the group was aware Weaver could be having relationships with men. However, he said: “There was no awareness or insinuations of any type of inappropriate behavior when we became aware of the chatter at the time.”

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