It was just two months ago when the New York Times first reported that the Justice Department is investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) over allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a minor, possibly violating federal sex-trafficking laws in the process. As we've discussed, the scope of the scandal surrounding the Florida Republican has grown considerably since the initial revelations.
Conditions grew more serious two weeks ago when Joel Greenberg, an almost comically scandalous figure whom Gaetz has described as his "wingman," pleaded guilty as part of a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors. Greenberg's lawyer told reporters, "I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today."
Politico's reporting overnight doesn't help matters.
Federal prosecutors are examining whether Rep. Matt Gaetz obstructed justice during a phone call he had with a witness in the sex-crimes investigation of the Florida congressman, according to two sources familiar with the case.
According to the reporting, which has not been independently confirmed by MSNBC or NBC News, the witness -- one of the women who entered Gaetz's orbit by way of Greenberg -- spoke over the phone with the GOP congressman's ex-girlfriend after the investigation was underway. During the conversation, Gaetz got on the line.
Politico added, "While it's unknown exactly what was said, the discussion on that call is central to whether prosecutors can charge Gaetz with obstructing justice, which makes it illegal to suggest that a witness in a criminal case lie or give misleading testimony. The witness later spoke with prosecutors, the sources said."
Also note, CNN published a report two weeks ago, which also has not been independently confirmed by MSNBC or NBC News, adding that federal authorities "have secured the cooperation of the congressman's ex-girlfriend," a former Capitol Hill staffer. CNN's report described the woman as "a critical witness."
While the Florida lawmaker continues to deny any wrongdoing, he has already acknowledged the Justice Department investigation. House Republican leaders have said they intend to overlook the congressman's scandal unless and until he's criminally charged.
Gaetz currently serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which oversee the same Justice Department that's investigating Gaetz.
Update: NBC News has confirmed that federal prosecutors are looking into whether Gaetz obstructed justice.