Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz privately sought a blanket pardon from former President Donald Trump last year, according to The New York Times.
Gaetz, who is being investigated by the Justice Department for potentially sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl he allegedly had a sexual relationship with in a probe signed off on by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, reached out to the White House for blanket pre-emptive pardons for himself and unnamed congressional allies for unspecified crimes.
It’s unclear whether Gaetz or the White House were aware of the sex trafficking investigation at the time and Gaetz around that time also publicly called for sweeping pardons from Trump in response to Democratic “bloodlust.”
Gaetz did not make any mention of a DOJ investigation to White House aides, according to the report. It’s unclear who else Gaetz sought pardons for.
White House officials “viewed the request for a pre-emptive pardon as a nonstarter that would set a bad precedent,” according to the report. But aides told Trump about the request.
Both men deny:
A spokesman for Gaetz denied that he reached out to the White House for a pardon.
“Entry-level political operatives have conflated a pardon call from Representative Gaetz — where he called for President Trump to pardon ‘everyone from himself, to his administration, to Joe Exotic’ — with these false and increasingly bizarre, partisan allegations against him,” the spokesman said. “Those comments have been on the record for some time, and President Trump even retweeted the congressman, who tweeted them out himself.”
Trump also denied the report after it was published.
“Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon,” he said in a statement. “It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him.”
Gaetz publicly called for pardon:
Two weeks after Trump’s election loss, Gaetz publicly called on Trump to “pardon everyone” that would be targeted by the “radical left.”
“He should pardon the Thanksgiving turkey. He should pardon everyone from himself to his administration officials to Joe Exotic if he has to,” Gaetz told Fox News. “You see from the radical left a bloodlust that will only be quenched if they come after the people who worked so hard to animate the Trump administration with the policies and the vigor and the effectiveness that delivered for the American people.”