The ex-girlfriend of Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., appeared Wednesday before a federal grand jury investigating the congressman for possible sex trafficking of a minor, according to a person familiar with a matter, a signal that the probe remains active more than a year after it began.
CNN and NBC News both spotted the woman and her attorney entering the federal courthouse in Orlando. A person familiar with the matter, who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, confirmed she was there as part of the Gaetz investigation.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. Timothy Jansen, a lawyer for the woman, confirmed to The Washington Post that he and a client were at the federal courthouse in Orlando but declined to comment further.
Isabelle Kirshner, a lawyer for Gaetz, said, “We have seen no credible basis for a charge against Congressman Gaetz. We remain steadfast in our commitment to challenge any allegations with the facts and law.”
Gaetz has been under investigation for possible sex trafficking since late 2020, during the final months of President Donald Trump’s administration, and he has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
Investigators are exploring whether he paid for sex in violation of federal sex-trafficking laws, and have been particularly interested in his dealings with a 17-year-old girl, people familiar with the matter have said.
Gaetz has denied ever paying for sex or having been sexually involved as an adult with a 17-year-old.
The appearance of his ex-girlfriend before a federal grand jury is a potentially ominous sign for the congressman, as she could provide insight into his personal life and dealings with women. It is unclear, though, what she has told the grand jury, whose proceedings are held out of public view.
The ex-girlfriend was among several women on a trip Gaetz allegedly took to the Bahamas in 2018 that has been of interest to criminal investigators. The 17-year-old at issue in the investigation was also on that trip, though she was an adult at that time, people familiar with the matter have said.
Prosecutors have seemed to be lining up possible witnesses who could testify against Gaetz. In May, a Florida politician who pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor and a host of other crimes agreed to cooperate fully with prosecutors. It was in exploring that politician’s conduct that investigators came upon evidence potentially implicating Gaetz in sex trafficking, people familiar with the matter have said.
The minor at issue in that politician’s case is the same person who is at the center of the Gaetz investigation, people familiar with the matter have said.