OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Rep. Matt Gaetz received some good news this week from Joe Biden’s Justice Department.
The DOJ announced it is dropping a child sex trafficking investigation into the Florida Republican involving a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl years ago and whether he paid her to travel with him.
According to the Washington Post, federal investigators say they had “credibility” issues with two of the supposed witnesses.
“Career prosecutors have recommended against charging Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) in a long-running sex-trafficking investigation — telling Justice Department superiors that a conviction is unlikely in part because of credibility questions with the two central witnesses, according to people familiar with the matter,” the Post reported.
“Senior department officials have not made a final decision on whether to charge Gaetz, but it is rare for such advice to be rejected, these people told The Washington Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations,” the report noted further.
“They added that it is always possible additional evidence emerges that could alter prosecutors’ understanding of the case. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that federal authorities will charge Gaetz with a crime in an investigation that started in late 2020 and focused on his alleged involvement with a 17-year-old girl several years earlier. Gaetz, 40, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, saying he has never paid for sex,” the Post continued.
Rep. Matt Gaetz likely to avoid charges in sex-trafficking probe as federal prosecutors recommend against them, people familiar say https://t.co/kfshVa01RL
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 23, 2022
A year ago, Gaetz was exonerated after the Department of Justice indicted his accuser for extortion.
Stephen Alford, 62, was indicted in September 2021 for false accusations of sexual misconduct against the congressman, Townhall reported.
“Stephen M. Alford did knowingly and willfully devise, and intent to devise, a scheme to defraud and for obtaining money and property by means of material false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, and for the promise of executing such scheme, did cause, and attempt to cause, a wire communication to be transmitted in interstate commerce,” the report said.
In March of last year, Gaetz admitted that he was the subject of a federal investigation for sexual misconduct in an interview with Axios.
He maintained his innocence and said that the accuser was attempting to extort himself and his wealthy family.
“The allegations against me are as searing as they are false,” he said in an interview with Axios. “I believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to criminalize my sexual conduct, you know when I was a single guy.”
“The allegations of sexual misconduct against me are false,” he said. “They are rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million … in exchange for making this case go away.”
He also defended himself on Twitter at the time.
“Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name,” he wrote.
“We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals. The planted leak to The New York Times tonight was intended to thwart that investigation,” the congressman said.
Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name.
We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter…
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 30, 2021
“No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation,” he said.
…of the ongoing extortion investigation.
I demand the DOJ immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicate their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 30, 2021
In August, a federal judge sentenced Alford to more than five years in prison — 63 months — over the scheme, though according to The Hill, prosecutors wanted between 11 and 14 years behind bars for Alford. But U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Florida Casey Rodgers, a George W. Bush appointee, described that request as being incorrectly based on Alford actually having stolen the money rather than only attempting to do so, The Hill added.
“Intended loss does not fall within the bounds of reasonable interpretation for the term loss,” wrote Rodgers, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News.