Matt Gaetz Repeatedly Asked About Trump Pardon in Intense 6-Minute Grilling

Florida Republican Matt Gaetz has said that he never sought a blanket pardon from Donald Trump—despite testimony to the contrary—after being grilled by MSNBC's Ari Melber on the topic on Monday.

That Gaetz asked for a blanket pardon in the final weeks of the Trump administration was first reported by The New York Times in April 2021, and was later confirmed by several witnesses during the House Jan. 6 committee's investigation into the Capitol riots.

Multiple former Trump administration officials testified under oath that the Florida congressman did ask the then-president for a blanket pardon in 2021. However, as the MSNBC host pressed him over the allegation on The Beat With Ari Melber on Monday, Gaetz denied ever asking for a pardon.

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) walks to a closed-door GOP caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol January 10, 2023 in Washington, DC. The Republican has denied ever asking former President Donald Trump for a pardon. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Melber then showed Gaetz footage of the former Trump administration officials—Eric Herschmann and Cassidy Hutchinson—testifying that the representative had asked for pardon.

"We've got multiple people," Melber said. "The director of White House presidential personnel, [Johnny McEntee], who's a Trump loyalist. Lawyer Eric Herschmann. Cassidy Hutchinson, famously. They all testified under oath that you specifically requested a pardon."

Melber continued: "So the question is, can you really say that all of them are committing perjury, lying on you? A. And B, if a pardon was requested, why not just tell us what were you worried about? What was it that you thought you or others might be indicted for?"

Gaetz remained unfazed, responding that "Cassidy Hutchinson is a known liar."

He added about the others involved: "I do not remember it the same way Eric Herschmann does. I did have conversations with Eric Herschmann about different groups of people that could potentially receive pardons―even including some of the people who may have committed a technical violation of federal law, but they weren't engaged in violence on Jan. 6."

Gaetz then admitted to having "conversations" about other people getting pardons. Pressed about whether he advocated for pardons for other lawmakers, Gaetz again denied this: "No. There were discussions about pardons for President Trump, his family members, his allies, and presumably members of Congress could have fallen in that group," he said.

In September 2022, The Washington Post reported that Trump aide McEntee testified that Gaetz sought a preemptive pardon for a Justice Department probe investigating sex-trafficking allegations against the Republican congressman.

McEntee said that Gaetz told him "he did not do anything wrong, but they are trying to make his life hell, and you know, if the president could give him a pardon, that would be great." McEntee added that the congressman asked for pardon to the then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

An investigation into alleged sex trafficking and having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl was opened against the Florida congressman in the last months of Trump's administration. Gaetz denied all claims.