Several Republican congressmen have lobbied White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to convince President Donald Trump to grant them a pardon for their efforts to help him nullify the 2020 election, primarily Rep. Matt Gaetz, according to testimony provided to the House select committee investigating Jan. 1. 6.
“The general tone was, ‘We could be sued because we were defending the president’s positions on these things,'” Trump’s former White House attorney Eric Herschmann said in video testimony shown during the hearing. hearing.
Herschmann said Gaetz told him the Florida congressman’s requested pardon would have covered “from the beginning of time until today, for anything and everything.” Gaetz compared the pardon he wanted to that received by President Richard Nixon after Watergate, Herschmann said; Herschmann said Nixon’s pardon “has never been broader”.
Rep. Mo Brooks, the Alabama congressman who led the House effort to overturn the election results, sent an email Jan. 11 asking the White House to apologize for himself, Gaetz, and “all members of Congress and senators who voted to reject the ballot submissions from the Arizona and Pennsylvania Electoral Colleges.
Trump “has considered offering pardons to a wide range of people,” according to Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican on the select committee.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Meadows aide, told the committee in videotaped deposition that Reps. Gaetz and Brooks both wanted “blanket” and “pre-emptive” pardons.
“Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon and had been doing so since early December,” Hutchinson told investigators. “I don’t know why.”
In addition to pushing Trump’s bogus voter fraud allegations, Gaetz has been under Justice Department investigation since the summer of 2020 for alleged potential sex trafficking of a minor. He has denied any wrongdoing and so far has not been charged in the investigation, which resulted in a plea deal with a former friend and Republican political ally from Florida.
Hutchinson also said Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, the House Freedom Caucus chairman, directly asked for forgiveness, as well as Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Scott Perry, the Pennsylvania congressman who lobbied the Department of Justice to investigate whether Italian satellites had been used to alter American votes.
Hutchinson said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan didn’t directly ask for a pardon, but rather “more of an update on whether the White House is going to pardon members of Congress.” And she said if Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia hadn’t asked for a pardon, but had “heard” Greene had asked for one from the White House attorney’s office.
Former White House presidential personnel office director John McEntee also said Gaetz told him he had asked Meadows for forgiveness. McEntee said Trump had personally spoken of a blanket pardon “for the January 6 matter.”
“The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you’ve committed a crime,” Kinzinger said at the end of the hearing.
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