A lawyer for the chief witness in opposition to Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, mentioned on Friday that the witness was cooperating with a House Ethics Committee investigation into whether or not Mr. Gaetz had intercourse with an underage lady whereas he was serving in Congress.
Fritz Scheller, a lawyer for Mr. Gaetz’s former good friend and political ally Joel Greenberg, mentioned he offered paperwork to the committee that he mentioned backed up his shopper’s claims that he witnessed Mr. Gaetz having intercourse with a 17-year-old lady.
“Mr. Greenberg has and will cooperate with any congressional request,” Mr. Scheller mentioned in an e-mail on Friday.
Mr. Greenberg, who pleaded responsible in May 2021 to prices together with intercourse trafficking, is serving an 11-year jail sentence. He had beforehand cooperated with a Justice Department investigation into whether or not Mr. Gaetz had engaged in intercourse trafficking of a minor, a federal offense that carries a minimal of 10 years in jail.
Last 12 months, the Justice Department quietly closed the inquiry into Mr. Gaetz after investigators concluded they might not make a powerful sufficient case in opposition to him in court docket, individuals conversant in the matter mentioned.
Mr. Scheller mentioned the paperwork he handed over to Congress got here in response to a request from the House Ethics Committee.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Gaetz, Jillian L. Wyant, mentioned on Friday that the Justice Department had acquired the identical materials as that despatched to the Ethics Committee and “deemed it unreliable and declined to press charges.” The information media, she added, “should not be laundering smears from people in prison.”
It is unclear how helpful the paperwork might be to the committee, which started its investigation into Mr. Gaetz a number of months in the past, after concluding one into George Santos, the previous New York consultant who had fabricated giant parts of his background as he ran for Congress. The House expelled Mr. Santos late final 12 months, after the committee launched its report.
The investigation of Mr. Gaetz has been gradual shifting as investigators have been despatched a variety of suggestions. Mr. Gaetz has claimed that the inquiry is in retaliation in opposition to him for taking the lead in ousting Kevin McCarthy as House speaker.
The Justice Department’s resolution to not prosecute Mr. Gaetz got here two months after Mr. Greenberg was sentenced to jail. Mr. Scheller mentioned on the time that the Justice Department’s resolution proved that the nation had “two systems” — one which favors politicians like Mr. Gaetz and penalizes those that are much less highly effective, like Mr. Greenberg.
“Why prosecute the privileged when defendants of restricted culpability present ample cannon fodder?” Mr. Scheller mentioned then.