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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) speaking at CPAC in February 2021 in Orlando. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Joel Greenberg, an associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), is in plea negotiations after being charged with sex trafficking of a minor, according to his lawyer, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: A plea deal may indicate that Greenberg, a former tax collector in Seminole County, Florida, is open to cooperating with investigators by providing information though it's unknown how deep the negotiations are.

Context: The Justice Department launched an investigation into Gaetz for sexual activity with women after first investigating Greenberg and indicting him last year on a federal sex trafficking charge and other crimes, according to the New York Times.

  • Investigators believe Greenberg met women through websites for dates in exchange for gifts, fine dining, travel and allowances and also introduced the women to Gaetz, who had sex with them, according to the Times.
  • The federal investigation is also examining whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws by having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paying for her to travel with him.
  • Gaetz has denied ever paying woman for sex and has claimed that the investigation is part of a criminal extortion scheme against him and his family.

The big picture:: During court-ordered meeting for Greenberg's case, federal prosecutor told a judge he expected the case to end with a plea agreement.

  • An attorney for Greenberg then asked the judge to set a deadline of May 15 for the two sides to either reach a deal, or move forward with a trial, according to the Post.

Go deeper: Gaetz to speak at pro-Trump women's conference amid sex trafficking probe

Go deeper

Gaetz to speak at pro-Trump women's conference amid sex trafficking probe

Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is currently under federal investigation for possible sex trafficking, is set to speak at a conservative women's conference at former President Trump's Miami golf course on Friday.

What's happening: The Women for America First group will host Gaetz at Trump National Doral golf course, in addition to fellow Florida GOP Reps. Byron Donalds and Kat Cammack.

Retail sales flat in April after huge surge in March

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

April retail sales in the U.S. were unchanged from March, which saw a surge revised up to 10.7%, according to the latest Commerce Department report published Friday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has been entering a period of growing optimism in the wake of the vaccine rollout, falling new COVID-19 cases and deaths, and a slowly recovering labor market. Retail sales were up 51% year-over-year compared to April 2020.

Policy group lays groundwork for "net negative" emissions tech

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new policy roadmap provides Congress and the White House with ways to support the growth of methods to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using everything from existing forests to direct air capture machines.

Driving the news: Recent climate studies, such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 1.5-degree report, have pointed to the clear need for society to pursue strategies for driving carbon emissions into negative territory by the latter half of the century.