- Matt Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend testified before a grand jury on Wednesday, NBC News reported.
- It marks another development in the wide-ranging federal sex-trafficking investigation into Gaetz.
- Prosecutors are reportedly investigating Gaetz for three separate crimes.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend testified before a federal grand jury on Wednesday, NBC News reported.
According to the report, Gaetz’s ex, whose name was withheld to protect her privacy, has been talking to federal prosecutors for months about a possible deal to testify in exchange for immunity.
NBC also said prosecutors are investigating if three separate crimes: if he sex-trafficked the 17-year-old; if he violated the Mann Act, which prohibits the transportation of “any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose” across state lines; and if he obstructed justice.
With respect to the last crime, investigators are said to be scrutinizing a three-way call after the investigation started between Gaetz, his ex, and another woman who was cooperating with federal authorities and who was reportedly recording the phone call. NBC reported that authorities suspect Gaetz of obstructing justice during that conversation, which took place last April, but he’s denied the allegation.
Wednesday’s development marks another phase in the Justice Department’s wide-ranging sex crimes probe into the Florida Republican.
Gaetz was reportedly in an open relationship with his ex-girlfriend in 2017 and 2018, and she traveled with him and several others to the Bahamas in 2018 as part of a trip that has also attracted investigators’ scrutiny.
The existence of the investigation first became public last March, when The New York Times reported that investigators were examining if Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old in 2019 and paid for her to travel with him. The inquiry had been underway for several months before it was reported on.
One person familiar with the conversations told The Times that Gaetz told some women to say that he paid for dinners and hotel rooms as part of their dates if anyone asked about the nature of their relationships.
People familiar with the encounters also told The Times that some of the men and women, including Gaetz, took MDMA before having sex, and that in some cases the Florida lawmaker asked the women to find others who may want to have sex with him and his friends.
The FBI executed a search warrant in late 2020 and seized Gaetz’s cell phone, as long as a phone belonging to his former girlfriend.
Prosecutors netted a significant victory in May, when Gaetz’s close associate and former Florida tax official Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty to several felonies and formally agreed to cooperate with the sex crimes investigation.
The Times reported in April that Greenberg had given investigators information about an “array of topics” since he first began cooperating in 2020, including telling them that he and Gaetz had interactions with women who were given cash and gifts in exchange for sex.
According to The Daily Beast, Greenberg also said in a letter that Gaetz paid for sex with a minor. Greenberg is said to have sent the letter to the longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency in a last-ditch bid to obtain a pardon.
Both Gaetz and his father have confirmed the existence of the investigation. He has not been charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing, and he’s also suggested that the department’s investigation into him is part of a multimillion extortion scheme targeting his family.
However, the investigation was launched when Trump was president and Bill Barr, then the attorney general and a staunch Trump loyalist with strong conservative credentials, greenlit the inquiry.
The timeline is also worth nothing: the sex-trafficking investigation into Gaetz had been underway for more than six months by the time his father, Don, was contacted as part of the alleged extortion plot.
Insider has reached out to Gaetz’s office for comment.