In March 2021, Washington was captivated by a scandal of Floridian proportions when Representative Matt Gaetz sat for a bizarre Fox News interview confirming reports that he was under investigation for allegedly paying a 17-year-old for sex and paid for her to travel across state lines, violating federal statutes against sex trafficking. Months of hype over a pending indictment followed, as Democrats and Republicans alike piled on the brash Trump ally anticipating he could go down.
That’s now unlikely to happen, according to the Washington Post, which reports that prosecutors have recommended against charging the Florida representative in the inquiry because of the credibility of two key witnesses involved. Such recommendations are very rarely ignored.
According to the Post, one of the witnesses determined to be unreliable before a jury is Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend, who was on a 2018 trip to the Bahamas with the congressman in which the 17-year-old in question was also traveling. (By that point, she had turned 18.) The other is Gaetz’s friend and so-called “wingman” Joel Greenberg, the former Seminole County tax collector who pleaded guilty in 2021 to sex trafficking a minor, among other charges, and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. As part of his plea deal, Greenberg vowed to cooperate with investigators in related cases. Through investigating Greenberg, the Feds determined there were grounds to open an investigation into whether or not Gaetz also engaged in sex trafficking. The Trump ally has denied all wrongdoing, though he also reportedly sought out a pre-emptive pardon from the former president related to the federal inquiry.
Though Gaetz probably won’t be charged, his reputation did not come out of the matter unscathed. When the probe was first made public, Republicans in Congress began piling dirt on him, leaking that he would show nude pictures of women he was dating to colleagues on the House floor; that he dated a college student while he was in his late 30s; and that he used illegal drugs.