AP/ Tom Williams
Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.Prosecutors at the Justice Department have recommended that Rep. Matt Gaetz not be charged in connection with a sex trafficking investigation, sources familiar with the case told the Washington Post. According to the paper, the federal prosecutors involved in the probe have advised their superiors at DOJ that they are worried about the credibility of two key witnesses.
According to the Post, the investigators—beginning in late 2020 during the Trump administration—”set out to determine if the congressman paid for sex in violation of federal sex-trafficking laws and have examined his dealings with [a] then-17-year-old.”
Gaetz has denied wrongdoing, asserting that’s he has never “paid for sex” and has never been involved with anyone underage. Earlier this year, during testimony before the Jan. 6 committee, a former Trump aide alleged that Gaetz had sought a preemptive pardon from Donald Trump, who Gaetz has vocally supported over the years.
According to the Post, the two witnesses in question are Gaetz’ former friend and ex-tax collector Joel Greenberg and the then-underaged girl. Last year, Greenberg pleaded guilty to child trafficking charges as well as other criminal charges. Legal experts said that establishing Greenberg’s credibility would be an uphill battle for prosecutors, in part because Greenberg previously admitted to fabricating similar allegations against a political opponent.
Senior DOJ officials have not made a final decision on whether or not to charge Gaetz. But as the Post notes, they are unlikely to overrule the prosecutors assigned to the case.