Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told a former White House aide that he sought a preemptive presidential pardon in a sex trafficking investigation, in line with testimony before members of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol attack, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
A probe launched within the waning days of the Trump administration is reportedly still looking for to find out if Gaetz broke federal law by allegedly recruiting women online for paid sex, including a teenager. He has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a criminal offense.
Among the alleged interactions with women occurred with the assistance of former Gaetz “wingman” Joel Greenberg. The one-time Seminole County tax collector pleaded guilty last yr to 6 crimes, including trafficking a minor. He has been cooperating with federal investigators, and turned over “years of Venmo and Money App transactions and 1000’s of photos and videos,” ABC News reported last yr.
Johnny McEntee, a White House aide, recently testified that Gaetz told him he sought a presidential pardon from former President Donald Trump’s then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows within the trafficking investigation, sources conversant in the testimony told the Post.
McEntee recounted that Gaetz told him “he didn’t do anything incorrect, but they are attempting to make his life hell, and , if the president could give him a pardon, that will be great,” the Post reported.
Gaetz didn’t specify that it was the Justice Department conducting the probe, but McEntee said he assumed that was the investigation he was referring to, the Post reported.
The testimony is the primary linking Gaetz to a selected request for a pardon within the trafficking probe, the outlet noted. The Jan. 6 panel revealed this summer that Gaetz was amongst at the least five Republican lawmakers who sought broad pardons from Trump to guard them from potential rebellion crimes investigations might uncover.
Neither McEntee nor Meadows responded to the Post’s request for comment. A representative for Gaetz identified that the Republican lawmaker never asked Trump directly for a pardon, but didn’t comment on a request submitted through Meadows.
Gaetz “discussed pardons for a lot of other people publicly and privately at the tip of President Donald Trump’s first term,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to the Post. “As for himself, President Trump addressed this malicious rumor greater than a yr ago stating, ‘Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon.’”
Read the entire Washington Post story here.