Federal authorities investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) for sex trafficking allegations have secured the cooperation of his ex-girlfriend.

The woman, a former Capitol Hill staffer, is seen as a critical witness. She has been associated with Gaetz as early as the summer of 2017, which is a period that has emerged as a vital window of scrutiny for federal investigators.

CNN reported last week that federal authorities sought cooperation from the woman, as she could potentially help analyze hundreds of transactions made by the congressman that investigators have obtained through records.

Gaetz’s former girlfriend’s involvement comes days after former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector and associate of Gaetz, Joel Greenberg, pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, including the sex trafficking of a minor.

As part of his plea deal, Greenberg admitted to recruiting women for sex and paying them more than $70,000 between 2016 and 2018, as well as paying at least one underage girl to have sex with him and other men.

Gaetz spokesperson Harlan Hill said in a statement, “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. Mr. Greenberg has now pleaded guilty to falsely accusing someone else of sex with a minor. That person was innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz.”

Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, Gaetz’s defense attorneys, also said in a statement shared with The Hill that “we’re ready for a fair fight on the facts and the law. Anywhere. Anytime.”

“But the steady stream of leaks by anonymous sources undermines the integrity of this process. It is simply and unequivocally improper,” they two said.

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