DOJ prosecutors are recommending charging Gaetz in the sex-trafficking probe

The recommendation comes in part because prosecutors have questions about whether the central witnesses in the long-running investigation will be perceived as credible to a jury, the source said.

Justice Department officials have not made a final decision on whether to indict Gaetz, according to the source. CNN previously reported that the department faced a looming deadline to file charges of not interfering with an election, which is required under Justice Department policy. Gaetz is up for re-election in November.

The Florida congressman was investigated over allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution, including whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Gaetz has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

There have been indications that the Justice Department’s case may be in trouble. In July, prosecutors agreed to allow a key witness and associate in the probe, Gaetz’s close friend Joel Greenberg, to proceed to sentencing in December on charges including soliciting sex from a minor. The Justice Department had repeatedly sought a delay in his sentencing pending his assistance in the Gaetz investigation.

The Ministry of Justice declined to comment.

The Washington Post first reported the recommendation from federal prosecutors.

An attorney for Gaetz told CNN Friday that they have not received official word from the department about a charging decision.

A spokesman for the congressman said, “Those who told lies about Rep. Matt Gaetz are going to prison, and Rep. Matt Gaetz is going back to Congress to continue fighting for America.”

Gaetz sought a preemptive presidential pardon from Donald Trump, an aide to the former president told the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. John McEntee, who served as director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, testified that he interpreted the request in the context of the DOJ investigation.

According to McEntee, Gaetz said the Justice Department was trying to “make his life hell” and that it would be “great” if he could get a pardon.

Prosecutors continued to build their case over the past year, recruiting several people connected to Gaetz to cooperate in the investigation. One key employee, his ex-girlfriend who worked on Capitol Hill and has been linked to Gaetz as far back as 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. He had told the Justice Department about encounters he and Gaetz had with women who received money as gifts in exchange for sex, CNN has reported.

CNN’s Tierney Sneed and Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.