The January 6 committee aired a series of video testimonies from former Trump administration officials detailing which Republican members of Congress sought pardons from former President Donald Trump at the end of his term as he and his allies exhausted different avenues to stay in power.
Most prominently featured: Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.
According to various officials who spoke with the committee, Gaetz began pushing for a pardon well before other Republicans who were involved in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
“Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early December,” said Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in testimony aired by the committee on Thursday.
“I’m not sure why,” she continued. “Mr. Gaetz had reached out to me to ask if he could have a meeting with Mr. Meadows about receiving a presidential pardon.”
“I know he had asked for it, but I don’t know if he ever received one or what happened with it,” said John McEntee, the former director of the White House Personnel Office.
“The general tone was, ‘We may get prosecuted because we were defensive of, you know, the President’s positions on these things,'” said Eric Herschmann, a former White House senior advisor. “The pardon that he was discussing, requesting, was as broad as you could describe, from… the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things.”
“He had mentioned Nixon,” said Herschmann. “And I said Nixon’s pardon was never nearly that broad.”
Gaetz apparently referenced President Richard Nixon, who was pardoned by President Gerald Ford following his resignation amid Watergate scandal.
Hutchinson named five other House Republicans who sought pardons from Trump in the wake of January 6, including Republican Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, according to Hutchinson, asked for an “update on whether the White House is going to pardon members of Congress” but did not personally ask for one.
At the time, a federal investigation into Gaetz unrelated to his actions related to the election was already likely brewing.
In March 2021, the New York Times revealed that Gaetz was under investigation for an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and may have violated federal laws against sex trafficking in the process. Gaetz, who has not been charged, has maintained his innocence.
“The allegations against me are as searing as they are false. I believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to criminalize my sexual conduct, you know, when I was a single guy,” he told Axios at the time.