by Joseph Weber
Career federal prosecutors have reportedly recommended against charging GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz is a sex-trafficking investigation, telling Justice Department superiors that a conviction is unlikely.
The recommendation is in part because of credibility issues with the case’s two key witnesses, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post, which on Friday reported on the status of the roughly 2-year-old investigation.
Senior department officials have not made a final decision on whether to charge Gaetz, but rejecting such advice is rare, said the newspaper’s sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The investigation started in late 2020 and focuses on the Florida congressman’s alleged involvement with a 17-year-old girl several years earlier.
The now 40-year-old Gaetz, a President Trump ally, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, saying he has never paid for sex. He has also said the only time he had sex with a 17-year-old was when he was also 17.
Gaetz’s lawyer and a Justice Department spokesman have declined to comment.
The case centers on whether Gaetz paid for sex in violation of federal sex-trafficking laws and his dealings with the then-17-year-old.
The female at the center of the case been a central witness in the investigation. But people familiar with the case said she is one of two people whose testimony has issues that veteran prosecutors think would be unacceptable to a jury.
The other witness is former Gaetz friend Joel Greenberg, an-ex tax collector for Florida’s Seminole County who pleaded guilty last year to sex trafficking of a minor and other crimes as part of a cooperation deal with authorities, the newspaper also reports.
– – –