Gaetz sought pardon related to Justice Department sex trafficking probe


Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told a former White House aide that he was seeking a preemptive pardon from President Donald Trump for an investigation in which he is a target, according to testimony given to the House select committee on Jan. 6. investigates. attack on the US Capitol.

According to people familiar with his testimony, Johnny McEntee told investigators that in a brief meeting, Gaetz told him “that they are either opening an investigation into him or that he is under investigation,” without specifying who was investigating Gaetz.

McEntee added that Gaetz told him, “he hasn’t done anything wrong, but they’re trying to make his life hell, and you know, if the president could pardon him, that would be great.” Gaetz told McEntee that he had asked White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for a pardon.

Asked by investigators whether Gaetz’s request for a pardon was in the context of the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Gaetz was violating federal sex trafficking laws, McEntee replied, “I think that was the context, yes,” according to people. who were familiar with the testimony who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The testimony is the first indication that Gaetz specifically sought pardon for his own exposure in connection with the Justice Department’s investigation into whether he was violating sex trafficking laws. His public stance in the final months of the Trump administration was much less specific, repeatedly calling for broad preemptive pardons to fend off possible Democratic investigations.

McEntee testified that Gaetz met him briefly one evening and discussed the issue of pardons, but McEntee could not recall whether their conversation took place before or after the January 6, 2021 uprising, according to people familiar with the testimony.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) first got involved in politics ten years ago. It wasn’t long before he found stardom in the Republican Party. (Video: Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The Justice Department’s investigation into whether Gaetz paid for sex, paid for women to travel across state lines to have sex, and had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old was closed in the Trump administration’s final months. opened with the approval of Attorney General William P. Barr. The investigation stemmed from a federal investigation into Gaetz’s boyfriend, who is now a convicted sex trafficker. Gaetz has denied paying for sex or having sex with a minor as an adult.

McEntee did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Neither Meadows nor his attorney immediately responded to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Gaetz declined to comment on the testimony or whether Gaetz discussed a pardon with McEntee or Meadows, replying instead that Gaetz had never directly asked Trump for a pardon.

What you need to know about the sex trafficking investigation involving Matt Gaetz . is involved

“Congressman Matt Gaetz was discussing pardons for many other people publicly and privately at the end of President Donald Trump’s first term,” the spokesman wrote in an email. “As for himself, President Trump addressed this evil rumor more than a year ago by saying, ‘Congressman Matt Gaetz never asked for a pardon from me.’ Rep. Gaetz stands by President Trump’s statement.”

The House selection committee also declined to comment.

Gaetz has not been charged with any crimes, but Joel Greenberg, an associate of Gaetz and former tax collector for Seminole County, Florida, pleaded guilty last spring to six criminal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor. Greenberg agreed to cooperate fully with prosecutors and testify in court, and has been providing investigators with information about Gaetz since 2020, The Washington Post previously reported.

Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector for Seminole County, Florida, pleaded guilty on May 17 to sex trafficking of a minor and numerous other crimes. (Video: Reuters, Photo: Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP and Jabin Botsford/Reuters)

“The last time I had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old, I was 17,” Gaetz said earlier. On November 25, 2020, weeks after Trump lost the presidential election, Gaetz told Fox News that Trump “should forgive everyone, from himself to his administration officials, to Joe Exotic if they must.”

Cassidy Hutchinson, a top White House aide to Meadows, told the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack, that she is calling Gaetz and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) who both called for a “general pardon” for lawmakers attended a Dec. 21, 2020 meeting at the White House to discuss efforts to reverse the results of the 2020 election. In the previously aired testimony, she said she also called for a pardon for “a handful of other members who were not present at the December 21 meeting.”

Hutchinson added that however, Gaetz “personally pushed” for a pardon since early December. But the focus of that pardon request was not clear from Hutchinson’s testimony. “I’m not sure why Mr. Gaetz would contact me to ask if he could meet with Mr. Meadows about getting a presidential pardon,” she added.

Brooks, who then sent an email to a White House employee for a pardon, defended his actions in a statement following Hutchinson’s testimony, saying: “There was a concern that Democrats would abuse the justice system by targeting Republicans.” prosecute and jail” for objecting in Congress to the certification of the election.

Eric Herschmann, a former Trump White House attorney, told investigators he also believed Gaetz was asking for a pardon, according to an excerpt of the statement made at one of the commission’s public hearings.

“The general tone was, we can be prosecuted for defending the president’s views on these matters,” Herschmann recalled. “The grace he discussed about applying for a request was as broad as you can describe, from the beginning – I remember he is – from the dawn of time to today for all things. Then he mentioned Nixon. And I said Nixon’s grace was never that wide.”

Gaetz ultimately did not get a pardon from the former president.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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