Chief witness against Gaetz is cooperating with House ethics investigation

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaking at Team Trump New Hampshire headquarters, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, in Manchester, NH. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON — A lawyer for the chief witness against Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said Friday that the witness was cooperating with a House Ethics Committee investigation into whether Gaetz had sex with an underage girl while he was serving in Congress.

Fritz Scheller, a lawyer for Gaetz’s former friend and political ally Joel Greenberg, said he provided documents to the committee related to claims Greenberg has made about Gaetz. Greenberg previously told federal investigators that he had witnessed Gaetz having sex with a 17-year-old girl.


“Mr. Greenberg has and will cooperate with any congressional request,” Scheller said in an email Friday.

Greenberg, who pleaded guilty in May 2021 to charges including sex trafficking, is serving an 11-year prison sentence. He had previously cooperated with a Justice Department investigation into whether Gaetz had engaged in sex trafficking of a minor, a federal offense that carries a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Last year, the Justice Department quietly closed the inquiry into Gaetz after investigators concluded they could not make a strong enough case against him in court, people familiar with the matter said.

Scheller said the documents he handed over to Congress came in response to a request from the House Ethics Committee.

A spokesperson for Gaetz, Jillian Wyant, said Friday that the Justice Department had received the same material as that sent to the Ethics Committee and “deemed it unreliable and declined to press charges.” The news media, she added, “should not be laundering smears from people in prison.”

It is unclear how useful the documents will be to the committee, which began its investigation into Gaetz several months ago, after concluding one into George Santos, the former New York representative who had fabricated large portions of his background as he ran for Congress. The House expelled Santos late last year, after the committee released its report.

The investigation of Gaetz has been slow-moving, as investigators have been sent a range of tips. Gaetz has claimed that the inquiry is in retaliation against him for taking the lead in ousting Kevin McCarthy as House speaker.

The Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute Gaetz came two months after Greenberg was sentenced to prison. Scheller said at the time that the Justice Department’s decision proved that the country had “two systems” — one that favors politicians like Gaetz and penalizes those who are less powerful, like Greenberg.

“Why prosecute the privileged when defendants of limited culpability provide sufficient cannon fodder?” Scheller said then.

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