“DOJ is ‘stonewalling” House Ethics Committee Probe into Matt Gaetz Stalls as DOJ Refuses to Cooperate

 “DOJ is ‘stonewalling” House Ethics Committee Probe into Matt Gaetz Stalls as DOJ Refuses to Cooperate

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

The House Ethics Committee’s investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz has encountered a significant obstacle, according to a report by The Daily Beast. The Department of Justice (DOJ), which previously conducted its own investigation into Gaetz, is reportedly not cooperating with the committee’s probe.

Historically, the DOJ has shared information with the House Ethics Committee, provided it does not interfere with an ongoing investigation. However, despite the fact that the Gaetz investigation is no longer active, the department has declined to provide assistance to the committee. The DOJ’s unwillingness to cooperate has complicated the Ethics Committee’s efforts to probe allegations against Gaetz, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump.

The criminal investigation initially focused on allegations that Gaetz, a Republican representative from Florida, transported a teenage girl across state lines for sexual activities. Although federal prosecutors decided not to charge Gaetz, two other individuals were charged. Joel Greenberg, a Florida county tax official and close associate of Gaetz, admitted to sexual contact with the teenage girl and was convicted. Stephen Alford was also convicted of fraud after falsely promising Gaetz a presidential pardon.

“The DOJ is ‘stonewalling’ the committee and refusing to turn over relevant information about its own sprawling criminal probe into Gaetz, frustrating the pace of the congressional investigation and leading the committee to seriously consider issuing subpoenas to the feds, according to two sources familiar with the matter,” reported Reese Gorman and Roger Sollenberger. “Currently, the committee has authorized multiple subpoenas to the DOJ for the information but has not served them yet, according to one source. Another source added that it is unusual for the DOJ to push back against the committee to this extent, especially when the relevant investigation isn’t active.”

While the federal investigation concluded without implicating Gaetz directly, the House Ethics Committee, led by Representative Michael Guest, continues to investigate the congressman. Their inquiry encompasses not just the sex trafficking allegation but also complaints related to drug use and campaign finance misconduct. Gaetz has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has openly mocked the House investigation.

The Ethics Committee typically relies on information from the DOJ to facilitate its investigations, particularly when trying to identify crucial witnesses or obtain specific pieces of evidence. However, the refusal of the DOJ to share information in this case is expected to hinder the committee’s progress significantly. Although grand jury testimony is generally inaccessible, congressional investigators usually have the tools to replicate much of the evidence independently.

Despite this, the DOJ’s case file could have provided valuable shortcuts to key witnesses or evidence and offered insight into unproductive lines of inquiry. Without such information, the Ethics Committee could face substantial delays in their investigation, potentially stalling it long enough to prevent a resolution before Gaetz’s congressional primary in three months.

Moreover, the Ethics Committee faces the challenge of navigating these issues in a highly polarized political environment. Gaetz, known for his vocal loyalty to Trump and his confrontational style, remains a controversial figure within Congress. His open derision of the House investigation adds another layer of complexity to the committee’s efforts.

The House Ethics Committee has a responsibility to investigate allegations of misconduct against members of Congress, but this investigation highlights the difficulties they can face when other federal agencies withhold crucial information. The committee will have to rely on alternative methods and its existing tools to gather evidence and reach a conclusion.

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