Matt Gaetz's ex-girlfriend testifies before a senior judge in a sexual trafficking investigation

The development suggests that the Department of Justice may be close to accusing the Florida Republican.

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Formerly the daughter of Rep. Matt Gaetz testified Wednesday before a state judge investigating sexual offenses, a major development that suggested that the Department of Justice be closer to prosecuting him.

The ex-girlfriend, whose name has been withheld by NBC News to honor her privacy, has been in talks for months with prosecutors over a vaccination deal. Under a possible deal, he will avoid prosecution for disrupting legal proceedings to testify in an investigation into whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old woman in 2017 for money and that months later he and others violated the organisation's antitrust law. to pay for prostitutes overseas.

Legal sources familiar with the case say Gaetz is being investigated on three separate charges: trafficking a 17-year-old child; violating the Mann Act, which prohibits taking women to state lines for trade; and to disrupt justice.

Gaetz, R-Fla., Has not been charged and has denied all charges, saying he never paid for sex and never had sex with a minor when he was older. The Firebrand Conservative has called the organization's investigation a "hunt for witches."

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The lawyer for Gaetz's ex-girlfriend, Tim Jansen, declined to comment on the case on Wednesday, when he was spotted by a NBC News reporter entering the Orlando court with his client. A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined to comment. Gaetz did not respond to a request for comment.

The Gaetz investigation has been going on for over a year and began when his former friend and colleague, former Seminole district tax collector Joel Greenberg, was charged with multiple counts - from spreading his political rivalry to child abuse to cheating. taxpayers in the cryptocurrency system of sex trafficking the same 17-year-old boy in the Gaetz investigation.

Greenberg has agreed to plead guilty to six charges and is co-operating with state investigators, NBC News previously reported.

He pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft, fraud, fraud, conspiracy to bribe a government official and child trafficking.

According to a source familiar with the case, the victim, who is suspected of human trafficking, once told investigators that Gaetz had sex with her.

But the investigation into Gaetz was halted as prosecutors sought to co-operate with Gaetz's ex-girlfriend, according to those familiar with the case, because her testimony could help fulfill key aspects of the case.

The ex-girlfriend was dating Gaetz in 2017 and 2018 and allegedly was chatting with other women he was dating, according to three of the former friends. She is said to have accompanied Gaetz and a number of other young women and friends of the 2018 conference on a trip to the Bahamas, a journey under consideration, according to a report by CBS News and Politico earlier.

After the start of the investigation, Gaetz spoke to his ex-girlfriend on a three-way phone call with a woman who was working with state investigators at the time and was recording the phone secretly, according to two sources familiar with the case.

It was on that phone that Gaetz was accused of obstructing justice, state prosecutors investigating, according to legal sources.

After the call was first reported in April, Gaetz denied the allegations through his spokesman.

"Congressman Gaetz pursues justice, he does not prevent it," the statement said.

Jansen, an ex-girlfriend's lawyer, is well-known in Florida's legal circles as a specialist in vaccination contracts after finding a convicted murderer who has not been charged with aiding and abetting authorities.