The office of Rep. Matt Gaetz confirmed media reports Wednesday that the Justice Department had said it concluded a criminal investigation and does not plan to charge the Florida Republican with a crime.
CNN first reported that the Justice Department had reached out to witnesses to inform them they would not prosecute Gaetz after a yearslong federal sex-trafficking investigation. Multiple media reports included a statement from Gaetz’s lawyers that the DOJ had informed them that they would not file charges related to sex trafficking and obstruction of justice.
A spokesman for Gaetz’s office confirmed the end of the investigation in a statement Wednesday. “The Department of Justice has confirmed to Congressman Gaetz’s attorneys that their investigation has concluded and that he will not be charged with any crimes,” the statement said.
Gaetz, a prominent ally of former President Donald Trump and conservative critic of the Biden administration, has disputed the allegations since they first surfaced in 2021 in reporting from The New York Times and elsewhere.
“First, I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I, as an adult man, have not slept with a 17-year-old,” Gaetz wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner in 2021.
In April 2021, the House Ethics Committee announced it opened an investigation into allegations Gaetz “may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift,” according to a statement following several news reports.
The Ethics Committee, in a summary report issued last month at the end of the 117th Congress, noted that it had not completed its investigation of the Gaetz allegations. “The Committee, following precedent, deferred consideration of the matter in response to a request from DOJ,” the report said.
The committee’s report noted that it regularly defers its investigations while a Justice Department probe is ongoing. The report also noted that the committee’s jurisdiction is different than the federal government’s, and is concerned with violations of House rules rather than federal crimes.
A representative for the committee declined to comment on the status of the investigation Wednesday. A spokesperson for Gaetz did not respond to a request for comment on the ethics probe Wednesday.
Gaetz has served in Congress since 2017, winning election alongside Trump. Last month he gained prominence as part of a conservative bloc holding out against Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s bid for the gavel, helping to extract concessions from the Republican leader and ultimately voting “present” when McCarthy won the speakership.
Gaetz has assignments on the House Armed Services Committee, House Judiciary Committee and its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, where he has criticized the alleged “politicization” of the DOJ.