The witness then spoke with prosecutors, the sources said.
Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing, including obstructing justice or having sex with the trafficked 17-year-old, who was a friend of both Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend and the witness prosecutors interviewed.
The obstruction investigation is the latest development in the ongoing federal investigation into Gaetz, a leading ally of former President Donald Trump who has come under increasing scrutiny due to his relationship with Greenberg – now a cooperating witness. The filibuster investigation indicates just how broad federal prosecutors are to possibly trap the congressman.
A Gaetz spokesperson provided a written statement that the congressman – who is a lawyer – did not break any laws and called the federal government’s investigation a politically motivated fishing expedition.
“Congressman Gaetz is pursuing justice, he is not obstructing it,” the statement said. “The anonymous allegations have so far consisted of lies, shrouded in leaks, rooted in an extortion plot by a former DOJ official. After two months, there is still not a single charge of misconduct recorded, and now the “story” is changing yet again. ”
Gaetz’s statement also said his lawyers were simultaneously investigating an alleged shakedown program allegedly staged by a former federal prosecutor in reaction to the case.
Brian Tannebaum, a senior federal defense attorney briefed by POLITICO on the investigation, said obstruction of justice is “widely used by prosecutors in various forms” and can even trap witnesses who lie on the stand. trial. He said that if authorities taped the call involving Gaetz, prosecutors would listen for signs that he was trying to get the woman to “clear her story” by shading the truth.
“If there is any indication that he was trying to influence his testimony, it may be an obstruction,” Tannebaum said. “If it is determined that what he said interfered with the investigation, ‘did what he said to you affected your testimony in front of the grand jury?’ – that can be a real problem.
Neither Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend nor the witness to the call could be reached for comment. POLITICO does not name either the wife or the then 17-year-old victim of Greenberg’s sex trafficking to respect their privacy.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to the comments.
Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend who took part in the appeal in question, meanwhile, is seeking an immunity deal from prosecutors and has expressed fears to friends that she too may have been the victim of a charge of obstructing justice. She told friends that she was concerned the alleged victim of trafficking recorded her on another phone call.
Although Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend has yet to sign an immunity deal, she could do so by the end of the month, according to insiders with direct knowledge of the Gaetz investigation who say that July could be a prime time for the congressman to be indicted if there is enough evidence against him. Greenberg is already cooperating with the federal government, and there are signs that the woman he has sexually trafficked as a minor is also cooperating.
Gaetz dated his ex-girlfriend in 2017 and 2018, but they had an open relationship that involved other women, including the one involved in the threesome being examined by prosecutors, according to two sources close to the relationship. These two women joined Gaetz and others – including the victim of sex trafficking from Greenberg after turning 18 – on a jaunt to the Bahamas in late 2018.
Prosecutors are also reviewing this trip to see if Gaetz or others violated a federal law, the Mann Act, which prohibits the transport of people across state borders to engage in prostitution.
Gaetz has always denied paying for sex or prostitutes, but admitted to engaging in so-called “sugar daddy” relationships with the women he met via Greenberg, who in turn found many on. the SeekingArrangement website for men seeking relationships with younger women.
But while SeekingArrangement relationships might not meet the legal definition of prostitution for a Mann Law case, experts say federal sex trafficking under a minor law has a broader definition of financial transactions. If a suspect has had sex with someone under the age of 18, and if anything of value changes hands, then a suspect can be charged.
A lawyer representing one of those of interest to authorities in the investigation said prosecutors had interviewed “many women” and there had been “wild sex parties involving drugs, several women” . But, due to the vast scope of sex trafficking from a minor law, it could attract some of the women who had sex with the 17-year-old in 2017.
“There are two aspects to the sex trafficking of a minor in this case: have you had sexual relations with [the 17-year-old] and has anything of value changed hands? If the answer is yes, and if one of these other women was involved, why don’t they also face charges? Asked the lawyer.
“If the federal government wants to call a group of people in the state who have sexually trafficked a minor to arrest Gaetz for the same crime, it’s a defense if it goes that far.” “
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.