Prosecutors have advised Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz will not be charged in a federal sex trafficking investigation, according to a source familiar with the case.
The recommendation comes in part because prosecutors have questions about whether the central witnesses in the long-running investigation would be considered credible before a jury, the source said.
Senior Justice Department officials have not yet made a final decision on whether or not to charge Gaetz, the source said. CNN previously reported that the department was facing an approaching deadline to file charges in order not to disrupt an election, which is required under Justice Department policy. Gaetz is up for re-election in November.Read:Author speaks out as his book becomes one of the most banned in the US
The Florida congressman was under investigation on sex trafficking and prostitution allegations, including whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Gaetz has repeatedly denied any allegation.
There are indications that the Justice Department’s case could be in trouble. In July, prosecutors agreed to allow a key witness and co-worker of the investigation, Gaetz’ close friend Joel Greenberg, to move in December to conviction on charges including soliciting sex with a minor. The Justice Department had repeatedly requested a stay of his sentencing pending his assistance with the Gaetz investigation.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
The Washington Post first reported the recommendation from federal prosecutors.
A lawyer for Gaetz told CNN on Friday that they have not received any official notice from the department about an indictment.
A spokesman for the congressman said, “Those who told lies about Rep. Matt Gaetz are going to jail, and Rep. Matt Gaetz is going back to Congress to continue fighting for America.”Read:Mali Women’s Basketball Team Loses Game to Serbia, Fights on Camera
Gaetz asked for a preemptive presidential pardon from Donald Trump, an aide to the former president told the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. John McEntee, who served as director of the White House presidential personnel office, testified that he interpreted the request in the context of the DOJ investigation.
According to McEntee, Gaetz said the Justice Department was trying to “make his life hell” and it would be “great” if he could be pardoned.Read:Democrat-run El Paso escapes liberal mayors’ ire for bussing migrants
Prosecutors have continued to build their cases over the past year and have recruited several people associated with Gaetz to participate in the investigation. A key associate, his ex-girlfriend who worked on Capitol Hill and was associated with Gaetz as early as the summer of 2017, testified before a Florida Grand Jury in January.
Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector, pleaded guilty to six charges last year. He had told the Justice Department about encounters he and Gaetz had with women who received cash or gifts in exchange for sex, CNN reports.