People who knew about the testimony told the Washington Post on Saturday that a former White House official said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) asked former President Trump for a pardon because the Department of Justice (DOJ) was looking into charges of sex trafficking against him.
According to the Post, Gaetz told former Trump adviser Johnny McEntee that he had requested a preemptive pardon from former White House head of staff Mark Meadows. McEntee told the committee that he thought the pardon was related to the investigation by the DOJ.
The Justice Department is looking into allegations that Gaetz paid for sex, paid for women to cross state lines for sex, and had a sexual relationship with a minor. Gaetz disputes the charges. The committee previously revealed that Gaetz told McEntee in a videotaped deposition that he requested a pardon from Meadows during a hearing in June, the committee previously revealed.
Gaetz was mentioned in the testimony of other former Trump advisers as one of many Republican congressmen who requested pardons from Trump. According to testimony from a former White House assistant, Cassidy Hutchinson, Gaetz and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) called for a “blanket pardon” for legislators who attended a meeting in December 2020 where plans to rig the election were discussed. Former Trump White House attorney Eric Herschmann acknowledged in a taped deposition that he thought Gaetz was asking for a pardon and that his request was “for any and all things” when the committee inquired whether he was.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a committee member, also provided an email from Brooks in which the Alabama congressman asked for pardons for himself, Gaetz, and other congressmen who disapproved of Arizona and Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes.
Even though there had been rumors, McEntee’s testimony, which was published by the Post, is the first proof that Gaetz asked for a pardon while the Justice Department was looking into the sex trafficking claims.
In April 2021, the New York Times noted that Gaetz had requested a general pardon from Trump in the final weeks of his administration, noting that this occurred while the lawmaker was under investigation by the DOJ for allegedly breaking sex trafficking laws. Gaetz allegedly sought a general pardon, but Trump denied this.
At the conclusion of President Donald Trump’s first term, “Congressman Matt Gaetz discussed pardons for numerous additional people in public and personally,” according to a statement from Gaetz’s office. As for the president, he said, “Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon.
He addressed this false notion more than a year ago. Rep. Gaetz continues to support the assertions made by President Trump. The Jan. 6 committee and Trump’s team did not respond right away to requests for comment.