DOJ prosecutors are recommending that Gaetz be charged in the sex-trafficking investigation

The recommendation comes in part because prosecutors have doubts whether central witnesses in the lengthy investigation would be considered credible before a jury, the source said.

Senior Justice Department officials have not made a final decision on whether to charge Gaetz, according to the source. CNN previously reported that the department was facing a deadline to file charges to avoid interfering with the election, which is required by Justice Department policy. Gaetz is up for re-election in November.

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

There have been signs that the Justice Department case could be in trouble. In July, prosecutors agreed to a key witness and assistant in the investigation, Gaetz’s close friend Joel Greenberg, to stand trial in December on charges of soliciting a minor for sex. The Justice Department repeatedly asked for his sentence to be delayed pending help with the Gaetz investigation.

The Department of Justice declined to comment.

The Washington Post first reported the recommendation from federal prosecutors.

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

A congressional spokesman said, “Those who lied about Rep. Matt Gaetz are going to jail, and Rep. Matt Gaetz will return to Congress to continue fighting for America.”

Gaetz sought Donald Trump’s pardon, an aide to the former president told a House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. John McEntee, who served as White House director of the Office of the President’s Personnel, testified that he interpreted the request as being in the context of the DOJ’s investigation.

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

Prosecutors continued to build their case over the past year, recruiting several people associated with Gaetz to cooperate in the investigation. A key operative, his ex-girlfriend, who worked on Capitol Hill and was linked to Gaetz until the summer of 2017, testified before a Florida grand jury in January.

Greenberg, a former Florida county tax official, pleaded guilty to six counts last year. He and Gaetz told the Justice Department about encounters with women who gave them money or gifts in exchange for sex, CNN reported.

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