Prosecutors have recommended not charging Florida Representative Matt Gaetz in a federal investigation into sex trafficking, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The source said the recommendation was made in part because prosecutors had questions about whether central witnesses in the lengthy investigation would be deemed credible before a grand jury.
According to the source, senior Justice Department officials have yet to make a final decision on whether to charge Gaetz. CNN previously reported that the department is facing an upcoming deadline to bring charges of not interfering in an election, which is required under Justice Department policy. Gaetz will be re-elected in November.
The Florida congressman is being investigated over allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution, including whether Gaetz had an affair with a 17-year-old girl. Gaetz has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
There are already signs that the Justice Department case could be in trouble. In July, prosecutors agreed to allow a witness and key collaborator in the investigation, Gaetz’s close friend Joel Greenberg, to proceed with sentencing in December on sex solicitation charges. minors. The Justice Department sought multiple delays in his sentencing in anticipation of his assistance in the Gaetz investigation.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
The Washington Post first reported on the recommendation from federal prosecutors.
An attorney for Gaetz told CNN Friday that they have not received official information from the department about the decision to charge.
“Those who lie about Representative Matt Gaetz will go to prison, and Representative Matt Gaetz will return to Congress to continue fighting for America,” a congressman spokesman said.
Gaetz has sought a pre-presidential pardon from Donald Trump, an aide to the former president told the House select committee that is investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. John McEntee, who served as director of the White House Presidential Office of Personnel, testified that he interpreted the request in the context of the DOJ investigation.
According to McEntee, Gaetz said the Justice Department is trying to “make his life hell” and it would be “wonderful” if he could be pardoned.
Prosecutors continued to build on their case over the past year, recruiting several people affiliated with Gaetz to cooperate with the investigation. A key collaborator, his ex-girlfriend, who has worked on Capitol Hill and has been in contact with Gaetz since the summer of 2017, testified before a Florida grand jury in January.
Greenberg, a former Florida county tax official, pleaded guilty to six counts last year. He has told the Justice Department about his encounters with Gaetz with women who were given money or gifts in exchange for sex, CNN reported.