Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told a former White House aide that he sought a preemptive presidential pardon in a sex-trafficking investigation, according to testimony before members of the House select committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol. on January 6, 2021. , washington post reported on Saturday.
An investigation launched in the final days of the Trump administration is reportedly still seeking to determine whether Gaetz violated federal law by allegedly recruiting women online for paid sex, including a Teen. He has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime.
Some of the alleged interactions with women occurred with the help of Gaetz’s former “co-pilot,” Joel Greenberg. The former Seminole County tax collector pleaded guilty last year to six felonies, including child trafficking. He has been cooperating with federal investigators and turned over “years of Venmo and Cash App transactions and thousands of photos and videos.” ABC News reported last year.
Johnny McEntee, a White House aide, recently proved that Gaetz told him he sought a presidential pardon from former President Donald Trump’s then-chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in the trafficking investigation, sources familiar with the testimony told the Post.
McEntee recounted Gaetz telling him “he didn’t do anything wrong, but they’re trying to make his life hell, and you know, if the president could pardon him, that would be great,” the Post reported.
Gaetz did not specify that it was the Justice Department conducting the investigation, but McEntee said he assumed that was the investigation he was referring to, the Post reported.
The testimony is the first to link Gaetz to a specific clemency request in the trafficking investigation, the outlet noted. The Jan. 6 panel revealed this summer that Gaetz was among at least five Republican lawmakers who sought broad pardons from Trump to protect them from possible crimes of insurrection that investigations might uncover.
Neither McEntee nor Meadows responded to the Post’s request for comment. A representative for Gaetz noted that the Republican lawmaker never directly apologized to Trump, but did not comment on a request submitted through Meadows.
Gaetz “discussed pardons for many other people publicly and privately at the end of President Donald Trump’s first term,” the spokesman wrote in an email to the Post. “As for himself, President Trump addressed this malicious rumor more than a year ago by saying, ‘Congressman Matt Gaetz has never apologized to me.'”
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