CNN’s senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid said the “system worked” in Matt Gaetz sex-trafficking probe after the Department of Justice decided last week it would not be filing any charges against the Republican congressman due to insufficient evidence.
“A lot of people were curious about why that case didn’t go forward — they worried, because he’s powerful and his family’s wealthy, that he was getting off,” Reid told TheWrap. “Here, the system worked — they investigated, looked at the evidence [and] it didn’t have quite enough so they decided not to go forward.”
The formal decision not to charge the Florida congressman ends the investigation stemming to late 2020 that looked into whether he violated federal law by paying for sex, including with women under the age of 18, and helped transport them across state lines. Despite the case ramping up after Gaetz’s close friend Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty to a sex-trafficking charge, Reid insisted that based on CNN’s reporting, “it was a very aggressive, very thorough investigation that just didn’t have enough evidence to move forward.”
The Justice Department’s decision not to charge Gaetz did not come as a surprise to Reid, however, who says her team has known for several months that there “just wasn’t a lot of confidence in the case itself.”
“If you don’t have enough evidence to successfully charge it, they don’t want to use the resources to put forward a case,” Reid said. “It appears that, based on the witnesses that they were dealing with, they did make the right decision.”
After covering the case “consistently and aggressively” over the course of two years, Reid broke the news that Gaetz would not be charged and got an exclusive interview with the defense attorney for Gaetz’s former girlfriend, who confirmed the Justice Department did not have credible enough evidence to charge the Florida representative.
“They turned over every stone. And I think they ultimately made a decision that they didn’t have evidence to prove a crime,” the attorney, Tim Jansen, told CNN. “And I know critics think that the congressman somehow bought it off or somehow used his power, but I found (federal prosecutor) Todd (Gee) very responsible. He was very organized. He had evidence that he believed that he was following, and they made a determination that they weren’t going to charge.”