Former President Donald Trump issued a brief statement on Wednesday disputing reports made by The New York Times that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), one of the former president’s most ardent supporters in Congress, had demanded a preemptive pardon from him.
“Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon,” Trump wrote in a press release. “It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him.”
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) April 7, 2021
Citing two anonymous sources, The New York Times reported that Gaetz privately asked Trump for blanket pre-emptive pardons for himself and unnamed congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed.
The outlet stated that it was “unclear” whether Gaetz actually spoke with Trump about the request for himself and “unidentified congressional allies.” It’s also unclear if Gaetz was aware of the FBI investigation into his alleged actions at the time.
Gaetz told Politico late Tuesday that he stood by a previous comment in which he denied asking Trump for a pardon. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing, claiming that he and his family are victims of an extortion scheme.
“The recent false allegations against me are not something I’ve ever discussed with Trump, pardons or otherwise,” he said.
Gaetz is accused of transporting a 17-year-old girl across state lines to get her to a state where having sexual intercourse was legal. There has been no evidence to back up the allegation, and the alleged victim has not been publicly named.
According to Gaetz, a former official at the Department of Justice named David McGee sought to scam his family out of $25 million under the threat of sparking an investigation. McGee has denied Gaetz’s account, saying it amounted to defamation.
On Thursday, female staffers from Gaetz’s office spoke out amid the federal investigation about him allegedly being involved in sex trafficking and dating the 17-year-old girl.
“After the shocking allegations last week in the press, we, the women of Congressman Matt Gaetz’s office, feel morally obligated to speak out,” the staffers said in a statement. “At no time has any one of us experienced or witnessed anything less than the utmost professionalism and respect. No hint of impropriety. No ounce of untruthfulness.”
President Trump had already pardoned 44 citizens, including former National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn.