An ex-girlfriend of embattled Congressman Matt Gaetz received immunity from prosecutors and testified before a federal grand jury tasked with determining if the lawmaker engaged in sex trafficking and obstruction of justice.
CBS News provides context:
Multiple sources told CBS News that the ex-girlfriend and [another female cooperating witness] traveled to the Bahamas with Gaetz in 2018, along with a third woman with whom Gaetz was in a sexual relationship. That third woman was 18 at the time of the Bahamas trip, but investigators are also looking into whether she was 17 when the sexual relationship began.
Investigators are trying to determine if any of the women were paid and were illegally trafficked across state or international lines for the purpose of sex with the congressman.
NBC News explains the potential obstruction of justice charges:
After the investigation began, Gaetz spoke with his ex-girlfriend in a three-way call with yet another woman who was cooperating with federal investigators at that point and was secretly recording the call, according to two sources familiar with the case.
It’s on that call that Gaetz is suspected of obstructing justice, which federal prosecutors are investigating, according to law enforcement sources.
After that phone call was first reported in April, Gaetz denied the allegations through a spokesperson.
“Congressman Gaetz pursues justice, he doesn’t obstruct it,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Writing for NBC Think, legal analyst Danny Cevallos explains that an ex-girlfriend is a “diabolical, but brilliant” target for prosecutors because no spousal privileges apply:
There are exactly zero “girlfriend” testimonial privileges. It doesn’t matter if the girlfriend has lived with the boyfriend for years. It doesn’t matter if they have kids together. A girlfriend is not a wife — but she is a potential gold mine for prosecutors. They have a witness who often knows the target as well as a spouse would, but who can be questioned, cajoled and subpoenaed without worrying about any of those pesky privilege barriers.
Gaetz has denied all wrongdoing and dismissed the investigation as a “witch hunt.”
His one-time friend, former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, has agreed to plead guilty to six charges in a related investigation. Greenberg is also cooperating with prosecutors.