The recommendation comes in part because prosecutors have questions about whether key witnesses in the long-running investigation will be credible to a jury.
According to sources, senior Justice Department officials have not made a final decision on whether to charge Gaetz. CNN previously reported that the department faces a deadline to file charges so that they do not interfere with the election, which is required under Justice Department policy. Gaetz is up for re-election in November.
The Florida congressman was under investigation for sex trafficking and prostitution charges, including that Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl. Gaetz has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
There are indications that the Justice Department may be in trouble. In July, prosecutors agreed to allow a key witness and co-operator in the investigation, Gaetz’s close friend Joel Greenberg, to be sentenced in December on charges of having sex with a minor. The Justice Department had repeatedly requested delays in Gaetz’s sentencing in anticipation of his assistance in the investigation.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
The Washington Post first reported the federal prosecutors’ recommendation.
Gaetz’s attorney told CNN on Friday that he had not received official word from the department about the charging decision.
A spokesman for the congressman said: “Those who lied about Rep. Matt Gaetz are going to jail, and Rep. Matt Gaetz is going back to Congress to continue fighting for America.”
Gaetz sought a premature presidential pardon from Donald Trump, an aide to the former president told the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. John McEntee, who served as director of the White House Office of the President’s Staff, testified that he interpreted the request in the context of the DOJ investigation.
According to McEntee, Getz said the Justice Department was trying to “make his life hell” and that it would be “great” if he could receive a pardon.
Prosecutors continued to build their case over the past year, recruiting several people associated with Getz to cooperate with the investigation. A key operative, his ex-girlfriend who worked on Capitol Hill and was linked to Gaetz in the summer of 2017, testified before a Florida grand jury in January.
Greenberg, a former Florida county tax official, pleaded guilty to six charges last year. CNN reported that he told the Justice Department about encounters with women who were offered cash or gifts in exchange for sex.
CNN’s Tierney Sneed and Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.