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Gaetz sought blanket pardon from Trump White House: report
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) reportedly sought a blanket preemptive pardon from the White House during the final weeks of President Trump's administration, a revelation that comes as the lawmaker finds himself the subject of a federal sex trafficking investigation.
Gaetz asked the White House for a pardon for him and unidentified congressional allies, two people familiar with the discussion told The New York Times. The conversation came at roughly the same time that Gaetz publicly called for Trump to pardon GOP allies and as the Justice Department investigated the Florida Republican over an alleged relationship with a 17-year-old that violated sex trafficking laws.
It was not immediately clear if Gaetz was aware of the federal inquiry when he asked for a pardon, according to the Times. The request from Gaetz was communicated to a Trump aide, and it was also not clear if Gaetz requested a pardon directly with the then-president, the newspaper reported.
Spokespeople for Trump and Gaetz did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.
"Entry-level political operatives have conflated a pardon call from Representative Gaetz - where he called for President Trump to pardon 'everyone from himself, to his administration, to Joe Exotic' - with these false and increasingly bizarre, partisan allegations against him," a Gaetz spokesman told the Times.
"Those comments have been on the record for some time, and President Trump even retweeted the congressman, who tweeted them out himself," the spokesman added.
Gaetz also said last month that he is "not seeking a pardon."
The Times report is the latest development in a swirling scandal surrounding Gaetz.
Besides the Justice Department investigation, reports have also emerged alleging that Gaetz showed colleagues nude photos of women he claimed to have slept with and took illegal drugs and paid for sex with women.
Gaetz has denied all of the allegations and maintained that they are part of a smear campaign against him by his political opponents.
"Washington scandal cycles are predictable, and sex is especially potent in politics," Gaetz wrote in an editorial published Monday in the Washington Examiner. "Let me first remind everyone that I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal."