U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) asked former President Donald Trump for a blanket preemptive pardon, according to a new report.
Two people familiar with the discussions told The New York Times that the Republican congressman privately sought pardons for any crimes he may have committed and for his congressional allies during the final weeks of Trump’s presidency. White House officials viewed the request as a nonstarter, and the pardon was never granted, the sources said.
Gaetz, a 38-year-old conservative and a close ally of Trump, is being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department for an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old, possibly violating federal sex trafficking and prostitution laws while paying her to travel with him. The age of consent in Florida is 18.
It’s unclear if he knew of the DOJ investigation, which began under Attorney General William Bar while Trump was in office, when he allegedly asked for the pardon.
Gaetz denied ever having a relationship with underage girls. CNN reports a spokesperson also denied he asked Trump 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,” a spokesperson told the Times. “Those comments have been on the record for some time, and President Trump even retweeted the congressman, who tweeted them out himself.”
Gaetz, who’s expected to speak at a pro-Trump “Women for America First” gala in Florida on Friday, has claimed a former DOJ official is attempting to extort him for $25 million and accused the FBI of threatening his “friend.”
“I can say that, actually, you and I went to dinner about two years ago. Your wife was there, and I brought a friend of mine, you’ll remember her,” Gaetz told Tucker Carlson on Fox News last week. “And she was actually threatened by the FBI [and] told that if she wouldn’t cop to the fact that somehow I was involved in some pay-for-play scheme, that she could face trouble.”
Carlson denied remembering the woman and later called the segment “one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted.”
Gaetz has not been charged with any crimes and the investigation is ongoing.