Federal prosecutors have recommended against charging U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz in an investigation into sex-trafficking allegations, The Washington Post reported Friday.
The Post, citing unnamed sources "familiar with the matter," reported that career prosecutors told Justice Department superiors that a conviction of Gaetz is unlikely because of credibility questions with key witnesses in the case.
The Post reported that department officials had not made a final decision on whether to charge Gaetz, but prosecutors told those officials that the testimony of two key witnesses in the case, an ex-girlfriend of Gaetz and former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenburg, may not pass muster with a jury.
The Republican nod: Matt Gaetz wins GOP nomination for House in Florida's 1st Congressional District
Gaetz has repeatedly and vehemently denied the allegations related to the sex-trafficking investigation.
After The Washington Post story was published, Gaetz's congressional office issued a statement to the News Journal in response to The Washington Post report.
"Those who told lies about Congressman Matt Gaetz are going to prison, and Congressman Matt Gaetz is going back to Congress to continue fighting for America," the statement said.
Gaetz had not publicly commented on the news as of Friday morning, but on his Twitter account, he wrote "Happy Friday!" about an hour after The Washington Post story was published.
Investigation into Gaetz started in 2020
The investigation into Gaetz began in late 2020 as part of the investigation into Greenburg.
Greenburg pleaded guilty to sex trafficking a minor and several other federal charges as part of a plea deal with prosecutors to cooperate in other federal investigations.
The investigation into Gaetz became public in March 2021 and reportedly involves allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travel across state lines.
Another spinoff of the investigation led to a five-year prison sentence for Niceville resident Stephen Alford. Alford was convicted of attempting to extort $25 million from Gaetz's father, Don Gaetz, claiming he could ensure Gaetz could receive a pardon in exchange for helping free a man allegedly held for years by the government of Iran.
The Washington Post also reported last week that Gaetz sought a pardon related to the investigation in the final days of the Trump administration.
Despite the investigation, Gaetz easily won the Republican Party primary in August.
Gaetz is facing Democrat Rebekah Jones in the November election.
Jim Little can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 850-208-9827.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Matt Gaetz may not face charges in sex-trafficking investigation