Former President Donald Trump denied reports that Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.), directly asked him for a blanket pardon while noting that Gaetz himself has denied allegations that he violated sex trafficking laws and engaged in other sexual misconduct while in office.
“Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon,” Trump said in a statement. “It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him.”
Yesterday, The New York Times, citing two sources with direct knowledge of the matter, reported that “In the final weeks of Mr. Trump’s term, Mr. Gaetz sought something in return. 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.”
“No one in the Republican Party is surprised by Gaetz’s fall, but why was Gaetz asking for pardons for other congressional Republicans?” writes PoliticusUSA’s Jason Easley, who notes that Trump has been accused of sexual assault by numerous women. “These are all legitimate questions that should be answered, and Matt Gaetz’s request for pardons for other Republicans suggests that this scandal could far beyond one potential sex trafficking Florida congressman.”
Trump’s denial came a day after Politico reported that he and his allies have largely abandoned Gaetz after it emerged that the Department of Justice is investigating whether he victimized a 17-year-old girl and taken her across state lines.
Trump has reportedly followed the advice of his aides and chosen to distance himself from Gaetz altogether. One Trump confidante told Politico that Gaetz isn’t someone who people would rally to defend.
“The reason you haven’t seen people in MAGA world defending Gaetz is less about him being unpopular, which he is in a lot of circles, and more about the fact that he hasn’t done a single thing to make people comfortable to defend him. His interview with Tucker was an absolutely embarrassing train wreck,” they said, referring to a controversial interview Gaetz had with Fox News personality Tucker Carlson.
During his interview with Carlson, Gaetz insisted he is the target of an extortion plot and claimed there was no 17-year-old.
“Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime,” he said, adding that he is being targeted because he is ” a well-known, outspoken conservative.”