Reports: Rep. Matt Gaetz sought blanket pardons from President Trump




  • In Business
  • 2021-04-07 17:36:23Z
  • By USA TODAY

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., sought blanket preemptive pardons for himself and others in Congress during the final days of Donald Trump's presidency, according to The New York Times and Fox News.

Gaetz, an ardent ally during Trump's four years in office, asked Trump aides in January for the president to offer pardons for any crimes the lawmaker might have committed, the Times reported, citing two anonymous Trump associates.

The representative is under investigation by the Justice Department over allegations of potential sex trafficking of an underage girl. At issue is whether Gaetz paid for the travel and other expenses of a 17-year-old girl.

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"Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon. It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him," Trump said in a statement.

It is unclear from the reports who else Gaetz allegedly asked a pardon for or whether he spoke with the president about the matter.

Attorney General William Barr was briefed on Department of Justice inquiry last year, a person familiar with the matter told USA TODAY. The source, who is not authorized to comment on a pending investigation, spoke on condition of anonymity.

In November 2020, Gaetz said during a Fox News segment that Trump should pardon many in his administration and close allies because of the "bloodlust" of the president's political opponents.

Gaetz claimed the allegations against him are politically motivated. "Over the past several weeks, my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name," he said in a statement. "No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation."

When news of the investigation was first reported, the congressman told Axios that although "I have definitely, in my single days, provided for women I've dated," the allegations that any of them were underage is "absolutely" untrue.

The New York Times reported that multiple women received payments from Gaetz and Joel Greenberg, a close ally in Florida politics.

The women, who were underage girls at the time, had receipts of the payments from the mobile payment Cash App, according to the Times. One woman said the men encouraged them to meet for cash payments.

Gaetz has repeatedly said he won't resign. "Let me first remind everyone that I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal," Gaetz wrote in a Monday op-ed in The Washington Examiner.

Contributing: David Jackson and Kevin Johnson

Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter @mrbrownsir.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Matt Gaetz sought blanket pardons from Trump, Fox and NYT report

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