As much as a half-dozen Republicans lawmakers who strongly supported then-President Donald Trump’s false claims of ballot fraud within the 2020 election sought pardons from him within the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, based on testimony and evidence presented Thursday on the House select committee investigating the attack.
Trump also talked about issuing so-called blanket pardons to members of his family and White House staff before leaving office in January 2021, based on videotaped testimony by former White House aide John McEntee.
“The one reason I do know to ask for a pardon is because you’re thinking that you have committed a criminal offense,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one in every of two Republicans on the panel investigating the Capitol riot, said at the top of the hearing.
Five GOP House members requested pardons from Trump through the office of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, based on videotaped testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Meadows aide.
She identified them as Mo Brooks of Alabama, Florida’s Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Arizona’s Andy Biggs, and Pennsylvania’s Scott Perry.
Excerpts from an email by U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows asking for pardons for members of Congress are shown on a screen in the course of the fifth public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the USA Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 23, 2022.
Jim Bourg | Reuters
Hutchinson also testified that she heard that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia had asked the White House counsel’s office for a pardon.
In a Jan. 11, 2021, email to the White House that was displayed at Thursday’s hearing, Brooks not only asked for pardons for himself and Gaetz, but additionally for “every Congressman and Senator who voted to reject the electoral college submission of Arizona and Pennsylvania” five days earlier, on Jan. 6.
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It was on Jan. 6 that a special joint session of Congress convened to verify the Electoral College victory of President Joe Biden was suspended for hours after a violent mob of Trump supporters who forced their way into the Capitol and swarmed through the halls of Congress.
Gaetz had begun searching for a pardon in December 2020, based on Hutchinson, who added, “I’m undecided why.”
A video displays a discussion about Presidential pardons in the course of the fifth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January sixth Attack on the U.S. Capitol within the Cannon House Office Constructing on June 23, 2022 in Washington, DC.
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Former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, in his own videotaped testimony, said about Gaetz’s request, “The overall tone was ‘we could also be prosecuted because we were defensive of the president’s position on this stuff.’ “
“The pardon he was requesting was as broad as you would describe, from the start of time, up until today, for any and all things,” Herschmann said.
Gaetz, who stays under a criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department in a probe related to possible sex trafficking of an underage girl, blasted the Jan. 6 committee in a tweet after the hearing.
But his office didn’t answer NBC News when asked if he had sought a pardon from Trump.
“The January 6 Committee is an unconstitutional political sideshow,” Gaetz tweeted. “It’s rapidly losing the interest of the American people and now resorts to siccing federal law enforcement on political opponents.
Greene’s office likewise didn’t explicitly deny whether she sought a pardon, but referred NBC to a tweet she posted on the heels of Hutchinson’s testimony being shown.
“Saying ‘I heard’ means you do not know,” Greene wrote. “Spreading gossip and lies is precisely what the January sixth Witch Hunt Committee is all about.”
A video of US Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL) is shown on a screen in the course of the fifth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January sixth Attack on the US Capitol within the Cannon House Office Constructing in Washington, DC, on June 23, 2022.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
McEntee was asked in his videotaped testimony about whether Trump considered contemplating issuing blanket pardons to anyone involved in Jan. 6.
“I had heard that mentioned,” McEntee said.
Asked if he knew about Trump having conversations about potentially pardoning members of the family. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, were senior White House advisors.
“I do know he had hinted at a blanket pardon for the Jan. 6 thing for anybody, but I feel he had for all of the staff and everybody involved,” McEntee answered. “Not with Jan. 6, but just before he left office, I do know he had talked about that,” McEntee said.