In a federal investigation into s*x trafficking, prosecutors have decided not to charge Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, says a source with knowledge of the case.
A source said that prosecutors aren’t sure if the main witnesses in the long-running investigation would be considered credible by a jury. This is one reason for the recommendation. The source says that top Justice Department officials have not decided for sure whether or not to charge Gaetz. CNN has said that the Justice Department was running out of time to bring charges so as not to interfere with an election, which policy requires. Gaetz is running again for office in November.
The Florida congressman was being looked into because of rumors about s*x trafficking and prostitution. One of the rumors was that Gaetz had a s*xual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Gaetz has denied wrongdoing many times. There have been signs that the Justice Department may be unable to win its case. In July, prosecutors agreed to let Gaetz’s close friend Joel Greenberg, who was a key witness and helped with the investigation, be sentenced in December on charges that included asking a child for S*x. The Justice Department had asked for his sentencing to be put off more than once so that he could help with the Gaetz investigation.
The Justice Department said it had nothing to say. Federal prosecutors told the Washington Post that they thought it was a good idea.
Friday, Gaetz’s lawyer told CNN that they hadn’t heard anything official from the department about whether or not they will be charged. “Those who lied about Rep. Matt Gaetz are going to prison, and Rep. Matt Gaetz is going back to Congress to keep fighting for America,” a spokesman for the congressman said.
An aide to former President Donald Trump told the House select committee looking into the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, that Gaetz asked Trump for a pardon before he was even charged. John McEntee, who was in charge of the Presidential Personnel Office at the White House, said in court that he thought the request was related to the DOJ investigation. McEntee says that Gaetz said that the Justice Department was trying to “make his life hell” and that a pardon would be “great.”
Over the past year, prosecutors have kept building their case by getting people who knew Gaetz to help with the investigation. In January, his ex-girlfriend, who worked on Capitol Hill and has been linked to Gaetz since the summer of 2017, testified in front of a Florida grand jury. She was one of the most influential people who helped the investigation.
Last year, Greenberg, who used to work for the county tax office in Florida, pleaded guilty to six charges. CNN says that he told the Justice Department that he and Gaetz had sex with women for whom they gave cash or gifts in exchange for sex.
Tierney Sneed and Melanie Zanona of CNN helped put together this report.