The Justice Department is dropping its sex trafficking charges against Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), attorneys for the congressman said Wednesday.
Gaetz, a firm ally of former President Donald Trump, has been under investigation since 2020 over allegations that he had sex with a 17-year-old, paid for her to travel with him across state lines and obstructed justice to conceal the relationship ― crimes that often carry a heavy penalty.
“We have just spoken with the DOJ and have been informed that they have concluded their investigation into Congressman Gaetz and allegations related to sex trafficking and obstruction of justice and they have determined not to bring any charges against him,” his attorneys Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner said in a statement.
CNN also reported that senior officials with the department informed lawyers for witnesses Wednesday that they would not be prosecuting Gaetz. The Justice Department did not immediately return HuffPost’s requests for more information.
Gaetz, who won reelection last year, has maintained that he never had sex with a minor, brought one across state lines for sex or obstructed justice to cover up doing so.
“I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward,” he told The New York Times in 2021.
There were indications in recent months that the Gaetz probe had stalled. In October, NBC News reported that investigators were concerned about the credibility of some key witnesses. The Washington Post reported similarly in September, saying career prosecutors were recommending against charges because of the issue with some witnesses.
The probe initially took off after investigators began looking into Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector and a close ally of Gaetz, for sex trafficking ― a crime that recently earned him an 11-year prison sentence. While seeking a pardon from Trump at the end of his presidency, Greenberg wrote in a letter that Gaetz had engaged in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and witnessed him send the girl money over payment apps.
In 2021, The Daily Beast also obtained texts that Greenberg had sent Trump ally Roger Stone while seeking the pardon, writing of his lawyers and Gaetz, “They know he paid me to pay the girls and that he and I both had sex with the girl who was underage.”