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Justice Department declines to charge Rep. Matt Gaetz in sex trafficking probe

Analysis: Matt Gaetz investigation
Analyzing new allegations into Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz 06:03

Washington — The Justice Department has formally decided not to charge Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida in relation to a sex trafficking investigation, sources familiar with the matter told CBS News, with career federal prosecutors informing witnesses of the decision on Wednesday. 

The four-term congressman has been under investigation for several years to determine if he violated sex trafficking laws and obstructed justice in that probe. Gaetz has previously denied all wrongdoing, and said he has never paid for sex nor had sex with an underage girl. CNN first reported that the department had decided against charging Gaetz. 

Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, attorneys for Gaetz, said they learned about the decision not to pursue charges after speaking to officials at the Justice Department on Wednesday. "[T]hey 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," the attorneys told CBS News, an account also confirmed by Gaetz's congressional office.

Federal investigators were trying to determine whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old. According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, the woman was introduced to Gaetz by Joel Greenberg, a former Florida county tax collector and associate of Gaetz who pleaded guilty in May 2021 to six federal charges, including trafficking of a minor.

Investigators also zeroed in on a trip Gaetz allegedly took to the Bahamas in 2018 as part of an inquiry into whether he violated sex trafficking laws, multiple sources told CBS News in 2021. Federal investigators wanted to determine if any of the females who traveled with Gaetz were paid or illegally trafficked across state or international lines to have sex with him.

Last year, an ex-girlfriend of Gaetz was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony in front of a federal grand jury hearing evidence in the investigation of the congressman, according to a source familiar with the matter. She was viewed as a potential key witness, with information related to the sex trafficking allegations, and a separate obstruction allegation.

Gaetz, an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, became a thorn in now-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's side as McCarthy vied to become speaker, leading a group of conservative Republicans who resisted candidacy until McCarthy agreed to several concessions.

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