Former President Donald Trump just dropped a bomb on The New York Times: their recent report claiming he was asked by embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) for a preemptive, blanket pardon is flat-out false.
According to The Hill, Trump denied the Times‘ reporting in a statement issued Wednesday.
“Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon,” the former president said.
“It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him,” Trump added of Gaetz.
Anonymously sourced reports
In its report, The New York Times claimed that Gaetz had “privately asked the White House for blanket preemptive pardons for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed,” ostensibly in return for their loyalty to Trump.
The Times cited “two people told of the discussions,” who reportedly said Gaetz made the request near the end of Trump’s tenure in the White House.
According to the Times, Trump was informed of Gaetz’s request by aides, but it’s unclear whether the congressman ever directly spoke with the then-president about the matter. Trump, for his part, denies such a notion.
Fox News has since confirmed the Times‘ report, citing “a source familiar with the situation.”
According to Fox’s source, who also remained unnamed, “Gaetz’s request was met with ‘lots of eye rolling’ and ‘wasn’t even considered’ by the White House,” however.
While the validity of the pair of anonymously sourced reports remains unproven, it is at least clear that the Trump administration never issued a pardon for Gaetz, who is said to be facing a federal investigation over allegations that he was engaged in “a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old that violated sex trafficking laws,” in the Times‘ words.
The Times‘ latest report suggests that Gaetz’s request for a pardon came as the Justice Department “had begun questioning Mr. Gaetz’s associates about his conduct.” However, even the Times admits that “it was unclear whether Mr. Gaetz or the White House knew at the time about the [alleged sex trafficking] inquiry, or who else he sought pardons for.”
As Trump noted in his Wednesday statement, Gaetz has vehemently denied any allegations of wrongdoing. And even with the latest reporting, it seems we still have more questions than answers.