Matt Gaetz's ex-girlfriend will reportedly cooperate with the Justice Department's federal sex-trafficking investigation

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Matt Gaetz's ex-girlfriend will reportedly cooperate with the Justice Department's federal sex-trafficking investigation
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., takes a question from reporters outside a closed door meeting where Catherine Croft, a State Department adviser on Ukraine, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper testify as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019.AP
  • A former Capitol Hill staffer who used to date Matt Gaetz is cooperating with authorities, CNN reported.
  • His ex-girlfriend is expected to help investigators make sense of hundreds of transaction records, CNN reported.
  • Gaetz's lawyers told Insider they are "ready for a fair fight on the facts and the law."

Rep. Matt Gaetz's ex-girlfriend will cooperate with authorities as they investigate whether Gaetz broke federal sex-trafficking laws, sources told CNN.

She is the second person in Gaetz's orbit to agree to cooperate with investigators in recent days. On Monday, Joel Greenberg, a former Florida county tax collector, pleaded guilty to six felony counts and formally struck a deal with prosecutors in their investigation into Gaetz.

The New York Times, which first broke the story of the Justice Department's investigation into Gaetz, reported that prosecutors are examining whether the Republican lawmaker violated federal sex-trafficking laws.

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Gaetz's ex-girlfriend who will cooperate with authorities is a former Capitol Hill staffer and has been linked to him since at least the summer of 2017. She did not work in his office. According to CNN, the woman is expected to help prosecutors understand hundreds of transactions they've obtained records of.

Investigators have been pushing for her cooperation since earlier this month, CNN reported. Sources did not share with CNN if there is a formal agreement to cooperate.

"Congressman Gaetz doesn't seem to be named nor referenced in Mr. Greenberg's plea. Congressman Gaetz has never had sex with a minor and has never paid for sex," Gaetz's spokespersona, Harlan Hill, told Insider. "Mr. Greenberg has now pleaded guilty to falsely accusing someone else of sex with a minor. That person was innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz."

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Neither the ex-girlfriend's lawyer, Timothy Jansen, nor the Department of Justice immediately responded to Insider's request for comment.

Gaetz's lawyers, Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, told Insider leaks by anonymous sources have compromised the integrity of the investigation.

"We're ready for a fair fight on the facts and the law. Anywhere. Anytime," they said. "But the steady stream of leaks by anonymous sources undermines the integrity of this process. It is simply and unequivocally improper."

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While Gaetz has brushed off the federal investigation into his activities, legal experts have said he faces significant danger given that his wingman - Greenberg - pleaded guilty and has reportedly been cooperating with prosecutors since last year.

Earlier Friday, The Daily Beast reported that Greenberg took screenshots of encrypted text messages sent last year between himself and another individual, Joe Ellicott, in which the two men fretted about facing criminal charges for having sex with a minor.

According to The New York Times, Gaetz is suspected of having had a sexual relationship with that same minor in 2019.

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While Gaetz was not a participant in the conversations outlined in the story, legal experts said the existence of the screenshots could spell trouble for the embattled lawmaker as he continues to cast doubt on Greenberg.

"If Greenberg has texts between himself and Ellicott, it's certainly feasible he has other evidence and was savvy enough to take screenshots of those texts," Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI agent who spearheaded the government's case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, told Insider.

"It seems to follow that he may have kept all the evidence that he may have needed to use for leverage," she added. "I would not feel really comfortable if I was anyone that had committed a crime with him right now because he's kept files on people, potentially, which could be very damning and very useful to prosecutors."

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Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the Justice Department, echoed that view.

"Greenberg was thinking four steps ahead of Matt Gaetz," he told Insider, adding that the fact that Greenberg kept records of his conversations "absolutely bolsters his credibility."

"You can't cross-examine a screenshot," he said, referring to the text messages. "Greenberg got himself an insurance policy."

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