It's looking less likely that Matt Gaetz will be charged in relation to sex-trafficking

"Those who told lies about Rep. Matt Gaetz are going to prison," a spokesperson for the congressman says

By Kelly McClure

Nights & Weekends Editor

Published September 23, 2022 5:59PM (EDT)

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Prosecutors have recommended against charging Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) in relation to an extensive sex-trafficking investigation due to a lack of credible key witnesses. 

This information comes to light less than a week after news broke that Gaetz had allegedly sought a preemptive pardon from Trump after Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty to sex trafficking in 2021.

"To the best of our knowledge, Matt Gaetz is the only sitting Congressman to ever ask for a pardon for sex trafficking," The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) tweeted when word of Gaetz's pre-pardon began to circulate. 

According to The Washington Post, "senior department officials have not made a final decision on whether to charge Gaetz, but it is rare for such advice to be rejected."

The investigation involving Gaetz began in 2020 and included allegations that he'd paid for sex with a 17-year-old girl years prior. Responding to these allegations, Gaetz has maintained that the statements made against him in respect to this are false and that "the only time he had sex with a 17-year-old was when he was also 17," per The Washington Post's coverage of the investigation. 

Two of the key witnesses called into question in the investigation into Gaetz are an ex-girlfriend who claims to have been in close proximity to Gaetz and the 17-year-old in question during a trip to the Bahamas; the other witness being Joel Greenberg.

"Nobody's going to believe anything that Joel Greenberg says by itself," says lawyer David Bear. "His statements would need to be corroborated by testimony or evidence."

Bear served as counsel for a schoolteacher who Greenberg admitted to fabricating allegations against during his own trial.

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The news that Gaetz may be in the clear set off a storm of reactions on Twitter Friday.

"Whatever happens with Matt Gaetz he will forever have admitted his guilt in sex trafficking when he asked for the pardon," says Dem Strategist & Consultant Adam Parkhomenko.

"All the 'career prosecutors' I know would never ever blab to a reporter about an ongoing case," tweets lawyer Tristan Snell. "Something doesn't add up about this Matt Gaetz story."

"In fairness - Matt Gaetz, who is totally innocent of sex trafficking of minors, tried to get a pardon for his sex trafficking of minors," quips comedian John Fugelsang.

As this investigation hangs in the balance, a spokesperson for Gaetz stands behind the Congressman saying "Those who told lies about Rep. Matt Gaetz are going to prison, and Rep. Matt Gaetz is going back to Congress to continue fighting for America."

By Kelly McClure

Kelly McClure is Salon's Nights and Weekends Editor covering daily news, politics and culture. Her work has been featured in Vulture, The A.V. Club, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, Vice, and elsewhere. She is the author of Something is Always Happening Somewhere.

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