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DOJ Declines to Pursue Gaetz Prosecution

The Justice Department ended its sex-trafficking investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.) without filing any charges, his attorneys announced. The decision affirms a recommendation made last fall by career prosecutors, who told their superiors that a conviction was unlikely in part because of credibility questions with the two central witnesses, the Washington Post reports. Gaetz, 40, an outspoken ally of former president Donald Trump, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, saying he has never paid for sex or had sex with an under-age girl.

The investigation into Gaetz, who has served in Congress since 2017, began in 2020, during the Trump administration. It focused on the congressman’s alleged involvement several years earlier with a girl who was 17 at that time. Investigators examined Gaetz’s dealings with the alleged victim and set out to determine if he paid for sex in violation of federal sex-trafficking laws, people familiar with the matter have said. Earlier this year, a federal grand jury in Orlando heard testimony from associates of Gaetz’s, including an ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend who testified to the grand jury was among several women on a trip Gaetz allegedly took to the Bahamas in 2018 that has been of particular interest to investigators. The 17-year-old at issue in the investigation was also on that trip, though by that time she was already 18 or older, people familiar with the matter have said. She was a central witness in the investigation. People familiar with the case said she is one of two people whose testimony had issues that veteran prosecutors felt would not pass muster with a jury. The other is a former friend of Gaetz’s, Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector for Seminole County, Fla. Greenberg pleaded guilty in 2021 to sex trafficking of a minor and a host of other crimes as part of a cooperation deal with authorities.


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