DOJ prosecutors are recommending that Gaetz not be charged with sex trafficking

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The public prosecutor’s office has advised against filing charges Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz in a federal sex-trafficking investigation, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The recommendation comes in part because prosecutors have questions about whether key witnesses in the long-running investigation would come across as credible to a jury, the source said.

Senior Justice Department officials have not made a final decision on whether to charge Gaetz, according to the source. CNN previously reported that the department faced a looming deadline to file charges for not interfering with an election, which is required by Justice Department policy. Gaetz is ready to re-election in November.

The Florida congressman was under investigation for allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution, including whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Gaetz has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

There have been indications that the Justice Department’s case may be in trouble. In July, prosecutors agreed to allow a key witness and co-operator in the investigation, Gaetz’s close friend Joel Greenberg, to proceed to sentencing in December on charges including soliciting sex from a minor. The Justice Department had requested repeated delays in his sentencing pending his help with the Gaetz investigation.

The Ministry of Justice declined to comment.

The Washington Post first reported the recommendation by federal prosecutors.

An attorney for Gaetz told CNN on Friday that they have not received official word from the department about a charging decision.

A spokesman for the congressman said, “Those who told lies about Rep. Matt Gaetz need to go to jail, and Rep. Matt Gaetz is going back to Congress to continue to fight for America.”

Gaetz sought a preemptive presidential pardon from Donald Trump, an aide to the former president told the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. John McEntee, who served as director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, testified that he interpreted the request as being in the context of the DOJ investigation.

According to McEntee, Gaetz said the Justice Department was trying to “make his life hell” and that it would be “fantastic” if he could receive a pardon.

Prosecutors continued to build their case over the past year, recruiting more people associated with Gaetz to cooperate with the investigation. A key associate, his ex-girlfriend, who worked on Capitol Hill and has been linked to Gaetz as far back as the summer of 2017, testified before a Florida grand jury in January.

Greenberg, a former Florida tax official, pleaded guilty to six charges last year. He had told the Justice Department about meetings he and Gaetz had with women who received cash or gifts in exchange for sex, CNN reported.

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