Prosecutors won’t recommend indicting GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into whether the Florida congressman violated federal sex trafficking laws, according to the Washington Post.
Citing unnamed sources, The Post reported that prosecutors were concerned about the credibility of two key witnesses and believed they were unlikely to secure a conviction if they charged Gaetz. Justice Department officials generally take the advice of career prosecutors, but have not yet made a final decision on this, according to the report.
The Department of Justice has been investigating Gaetz since the summer of 2020.
According to NBC News, prosecutors were considering whether the congressman had committed three separate crimes: whether he had sexually assaulted a 17-year-old; whether he violated the Mann Act, which prohibits the transportation of “any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose” across state lines; and whether he has obstructed justice.
The existence of the investigation first became public knowledge last year, when The New York Times reported that investigators were looking into whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old in 2019 and paid for it. she travels with him.
A person familiar with the conversations told The Times that Gaetz had told some women to say he paid for dinners and hotel rooms as part of their dates if anyone asked about the nature of their relationships.
The FBI executed a search warrant in late 2020 andseized Gaetz’s cell phoneas well as a phone belonging to his former girlfriend, who testified before a federal grand jury earlier this year.
Gaetz has denied wrongdoing and said last year the allegations were part of an “organized criminal extortion” scheme against him. Last month, Florida businessman Stephen Alford was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to attempting to extort Gaetz and his father for $25 million.
“Those who told lies about Congressman Matt Gaetz are going to jail, and Congressman Matt Gaetz is returning to Congress to continue fighting for America,” a spokesperson for Gaetz’s office told Insider.