The New York Times reported earlier this week that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) had asked former President Donald Trump for a pardon before Trump left office.
The Times report generated so much buzz that Trump’s office issued a statement denying that Gaetz asked for the pardon, declaring on Wednesday that “Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon. It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him.”
The Times reports that Gaetz’s request came towards the end of Trump’s term.
“In the final weeks of Mr. Trump’s term, Mr. Gaetz sought something in return [for his loyalty to Trump],” the Times writes. “He privately asked the White House for blanket pre-emptive pardons for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed, according to two people told of the discussions.”
Prior to Trump’s statement, Fox News “confirmed” the report, though the outlet makes clear that it neither obtained a comment from Gaetz’s office nor from a Trump spokesperson
For its report, the Times cites “two people told of the discussions” between Gaetz and the Trump administration.
Fox News reports that “a source familiar with the situation” to the outlet “that Gaetz’s request was met with ‘lots of eye rolling’ and ‘wasn’t even considered’ by the White House.”
The Times states that aides told Trump about Gaetz’s request. But, the outlet adds that it is unclear whether Gaetz ever directly spoke about the pardon request with Trump. Gaetz, of course, never did get that pardon.
Gaetz is currently under federal investigation for potentially being involved in sex trafficking. There have also been allegations that he was sexually involved with a 17-year-old.
Gaetz has denied all allegations, vehemently, and, thus far, no charges have been brought against him.
The Times reports that, at about the time that Gaetz asked the Trump White House for a pardon, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) “had begun questioning Mr. Gaetz’s associates about his conduct, including whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old that violated sex trafficking laws, in an inquiry that grew out of the case of an indicted associate in Florida.”
The outlet, however, adds that “it was unclear whether Mr. Gaetz or the White House knew at the time about the inquiry, or who else he sought pardons for.”