An aide to former President Donald Trump testified Jan. 6 to the investigating House Select Committee that Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz sought a presidential pardon in connection with a Justice Department investigation into whether Gaetz violated federal sex-trafficking laws, a source familiar with the aide said. testimony says CNN.
John McEntee, who served as director of the White House Office of the President’s Staff in the Trump Administration, told the committee that Gaetz spoke with him about the pardon process related to the DOJ investigation in a brief meeting. McEntee told the committee he could not recall whether his brief meeting with Gaetz was before or after the attack on the Capitol.
Gaetze has not been charged with a crime, and the investigation is ongoing. One of Gaetz’s associates, former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, pleaded guilty to charges including sex trafficking of a child after agreeing to provide “significant assistance” to federal prosecutors to reduce criminal charges. extensive research The assistance included an agreement to testify at trials or federal grand juries, if necessary, and to return any documents that may assist the federal investigation.
Gaetz has alleged that they arose out of an extortion scheme against him and his family, and in a statement to CNN in 2021 he said that “no part of the accusations against me are true”. His spokesman also said that Gaetz has never paid for sex, nor had sex with a 17-year-old as an adult.
The new information McEntee told the select committee gives more context to Gaetz’s concerns about the investigation and hints at the exact type of apology Gaetz was seeking. The Department of Justice has been investigating Gaetz since early 2021 over allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution, including whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl.
McEntee relayed to the committee that Gaetz said at the time that “an investigation is being launched or there is an investigation into him,” without mentioning the Justice Department specifically as the investigating agency. But when committee investigators asked McEntee if he interpreted Gaetz’s pardon request as being in the context of the DOJ investigation, McEntee said, “I think that was the context, yes.”
McEntee also testified that Gaetz told him “he didn’t do anything wrong but they’re trying to make his life hell, and you know, if the president pardons him, that would be great.”
Details of McEntee’s testimony were first reported by The Washington Post.
McEntee also told the committee that Gaetz had sought a pardon from former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, which the panel revealed in earlier testimony. A spokesman for Meadows did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for Gaetz told CNN, “Congressman Matt Gaetz discussed the pardons of many other people publicly and privately at the end of President Donald Trump’s first term. As for himself, President Trump addressed the infamous rumor more than a year ago: “Congressman Matt Gaetz did not I have never asked for a pardon.” Deputy Gaetz continues to support President Trump’s statement.”
The panel already revealed some of McEntee’s testimony during a June hearing. McEntee testified to the commission that Gaetz said he specifically asked Meadows for a pardon, though it was unclear at the time what the pardon request was for. CNN reached out to a phone number and email address believed to be McEntee’s for comment, but did not receive a response.
When an investigator asked McEntee how he knew Gaetz had asked Meadows for a pardon, McEntee replied, “He told me he asked Meadows for a pardon.”
The commission also revealed McEntee’s testimony that he was aware of the January 6 talks about the possibility of a pardon.
A spokesman for the House Select Committee declined to comment.
In a June hearing, the panel revealed an email sent to the White House by GOP Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama “at the request of Matt Gaetz,” asking for a pardon for Gaetz, himself and unnamed others.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Meadows, also testified to the committee that “Mr. Gaetz was personally seeking a pardon, and had been since the beginning of December, I don’t know why. Mr. Gaetz reached out to me to ask if he could have a meeting with Mr. Meadows to receive a presidential pardon.”
Hutchinson said Gaetz was not the only member of the GOP to contact him about the general presidential pardon. GOP Reps. Brooks, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania all contacted him to receive pardons. Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene testified that she heard that “the White House Counsel’s Office apologized to Mr. Philbin, but I did not communicate with Ms. Green very often.” Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan said he “talked about congressional pardons, but he never asked me.”
Former Trump White House counsel Eric Herschmann testified to the committee that “I think so” when asked if Gaetz had sought a presidential pardon.
“The general tone was that we could be prosecuted because we were defending the president’s positions on these things. He was arguing, the apology he demanded was as broad as could be described. From the beginning – I remember him saying for anything from the beginning of time to the present day. He mentioned Nixon, and I said Nixon’s pardon was never so broad,” Herschmann testified, and the committee revealed in its hearing.
None of the lawmakers ever received a Trump pardon.