Career prosecutors are recommending against any charges against Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., whose name was connected to a long-running sex-trafficking investigation, according to a report in the Washington Post.
The report said people “familiar with the matter’ explained prosecutors concluded that a conviction would be unlikely because of questions about the credibility of key witnesses.
Sources told the publication that while a final decision hasn’t been reached, “it is rare for such advice to be rejected.”
The investigation that involved Gaetz was launched late in 2020 and focused on claims of his involvement with a 17-year-old girl several years earlier, allegations that Gaetz, 40, bluntly rejected.
Lawyers for Gaetz and the DOJ declined the publication’s request for comment.
The report said investigators had been reviewing claims that the member of Congress violated sex trafficking laws by paying for sex, and a federal grand jury in Florida heard testimony on the dispute.
One focus was a trip Gaetz – and others including that 17-year-old who by then was 18 – allegedly took to the Bahamas in 2018. But the report charged that individual was one of several “whose testimony has issues that veteran prosecutors feel would not pass muster with a jury.”
The report said another person with credibility issues was Joel Greenberg, a friend of Gaetz’s. He’s a former tax collected in Florida and pleaded guilty last year to sex trafficking of a minor.
He also had been charged with fabricating claims to smear a political opponent.
The investigation of Gaetz also took what the publication described as a “bizarre” turn when a Florida business operator was accused of trying to extort the congressman’s wealthy father in a scenario that purportedly involved a presidential pardon for the younger Gaetz.
That suspect, Stephen M. Alford, later pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
CNBC reported, “Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing since The New York Times first reported in March 2021 that the DOJ was investigating whether he had a sexual relationship with the underage girl and paid for her travels with him.”
As an outspoken supporter of President Trump, the case against Gaetz was being developed just as the Department of Justice and FBI were coming out of the cloud of their work with Democrats in 2016 to create a false narrative about President Trump that linked his campaign to Russia.
That campaign was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and used its Russian sources for the faked claims that the DOJ and FBI used them against Trump, who then was a candidate, and later while he was president.