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Canada: Matt Gaetz Pardon Request Related to Trafficking Probe—Testimony Transcript

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The January 6 House Select committee has released the interview transcripts from a Donald Trump aide who testified that Florida congressman Matt Gaetz sought a preemptive presidential pardon in relation to a child sex trafficking probe.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks at a news conference on Republican lawmakers' response to the anniversary of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2022 in Washington, DC. © Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks at a news conference on Republican lawmakers' response to the anniversary of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2022 in Washington, DC.

The transcripts confirm previous reports—first revealed by The Washington Post in September—that former White House aide Johnny McEntee said under oath that Gaetz sought a pardon from Trump before he left the White House over a federal investigation involving the GOP congressman.

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The transcripts show that McEntee told the committee how Gaetz had asked him about seeking a pardon from Trump via then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

McEntee testified that Gaetz told him he was was aware of an investigation into the congressman and that "he didn't do anything wrong, but they're going to try to make his life hell."

The Justice Department has been investigating Gaetz over allegations he had sex with a teenage girl and paid for her to travel with him, including over state lines to be sold into prostitution.

Gaetz has not been charged with any crime and denies all the accusations against him.

Cassidy Hutchinson, a top White House aide to Meadows, also testified to the January 6 Committee that Gaetz had been "personally pushing" for a pardon since as far back as December 2021, although she wasn't sure what for.

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In a statement at the time regarding claims the Florida congressman sought a pardon, Gaetz's spokesperson said: "Congressman Matt Gaetz discussed pardons for many other people publicly and privately at the end of President Donald Trump's first term.

"As for himself, President Trump addressed this malicious rumor more than a year ago stating, 'Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon.' Rep. Gaetz continues to stand by President Trump's statement."

Earlier this year, it was reported that prosecutors were planning on recommending that charges not be brought against Gaetz with regards to the long running probe over concerns about two key witnesses, a recommendation which will more than likely be followed by the DoJ.

Read John McEntee's testimony on Matt Gaetz's pardon request:

Q Are you aware of any conversations or communications regarding the possibility of giving Congressman Matt Gaetz a pardon?

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A [McEntee] I know he had asked for it, but I don't know if he ever received one or what happened with it.

Q And how do you know that Congressman Gaetz asked for a pardon?

A He told me.

Q Tell us about that.

A He told me to ask Meadows for a pardon.

Q So Congressman Gaetz told you that he had asked Mark Meadows for a pardon?

A Yeah. That's how I recall it, yeah.

Q Okay. Do you remember when he told you that?

A I don't.

Q Do you remember whether it was before or after January 6th?

A I don't remember if it was before or after January 6th.

Q What were the circumstances where you were talking to Congressman Gaetz?

A I had dinner with him.

Q Was it just the two of you?

A Yeah. I had dinner. He didn't eat.

Q He didn't eat?

A He just stopped by briefly.

Q Was this a dinner specifically to discuss the pardon?

A He said, like, can I meet you later? I said, okay, I'll be here. And then I think I, like, ordered some food. He sat down. He was there a few minutes. He said, hey, this is what's going on, and then he left.

Q And how did you know Congressman Gaetz?

A I just interacted with him on the road, traveling with the President over the years.

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Q Do you know why he reached out to you in particular for this issue?

A I don't.

Q What can you recall about what he said?

A That they're launching an investigation into him, or that there is an investigation into him, and he didn't do anything wrong, but they're going to try to make his life hell. And, you know, if the President could give him a pardon, that would be great. Something along those lines.

Q What did you say in response?

A I just said, oh, okay. I said, 'who knows about this?' I think he referred to maybe Meadows, plus one other person he told. But it was pretty, pretty tight hold. And then I remember asking about it later, and they said, no, we're not doing that.

Q Who was it who said they weren't doing it?

A I'm pretty sure it was Meadows.

Q Did he say anything about why they weren't going to give him a pardon?

A No.

Q In the pardon, was this in the context of 'I think it was a child trafficking investigation'?

A I think that was the context, yes.

Q Did Mr. Gaetz ask for anything in return or offer anything in return for the pardon?

A No.

Q Did he discuss the 2020 election with you?

A No.

Q Did he discuss the joint session of Congress on January 6th with you?

A Not that I recall.

Q Did you get back to Congressman Gaetz with an answer about whether there would be a pardon?

A Not that I recall.

Q Did you discuss the possibility of a pardon for Matt Gaetz with anybody other than Mark Meadows?

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A No, I don't believe I did.

Q And did you ever discuss the possibility of a pardon with Mark Meadows—sorry, with Congressman Gaetz—again after that?

A I don't believe I did, no.

Q Did you discuss the possibility of a pardon at any point before the dinner?

A No. That's when I first learned about it.

Newsweek has contacted Gaetz for further comment.

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