Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, and Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, were among the Republican congressmen who requested a pardon from the Trump White House in the wake of the Jan. 6 events, according to new evidence from the panel investigating the Capitol insurrection.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, who led much of Thursday’s hearing, highlighted a Jan. 11 email Brooks sent to a White House staffer recommending pardons for himself, Gaetz and Mr. 147 Republican members of Congress “who voted to reject the Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral college vote submissions.”
After the hearing, Brooks shared a copy of his email Molly Michael, Trump’s executive assistant, with reporters.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former special assistant to Trump, said in prerecorded testimony that Gaetz and Brooks had advocated for a blanket and preemptive pardon for several members and that Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon for him. Hutchinson also said Gaetz had been pushing for a pardon “since early December,” but she wasn’t sure why.
Hutchinson also said Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pennsylvania, have asked for clemency. She said that while Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, had not personally contacted Hutchinson for a pardon, Hutchinson had “heard that [Greene] had asked the White House Counsel’s Office for a pardon of [deputy counsel Pat Philbin].”
Hutchinson added that Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, had asked if the White House was going to pardon members of Congress, but had not specifically asked for one for himself.
In his own prerecorded video testimony, former White House senior adviser Eric Herschmann said Gaetz was seeking a particularly broad pardon.
“The general tone was that we could be prosecuted because we were defensive of the president’s positions on these things,” Herschmann said of Gaetz. “The forgiveness that he was discussing, requesting, was as broad as could be described, from the beginning of time to today for anything and everything.”
Gaetz is currently under Justice Department investigation for allegedly paying for sex with a 17-year-old girl and violating sex trafficking laws by transporting her across state lines. In April 2021, the The New York Times reported that in the closing weeks of Trump’s term, Gaetz had “privately asked the White House for blanket preemptive pardons for himself and his unnamed allies in Congress for any crimes they may have committed, according to two people told of the discussions.”
In addition, the former director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, John McEntee, said he was aware that Gaetz had asked for a pardon.
“He told me that he had asked [White House chief of staff Mark Meadows] for a reprieve,” McEntee said of Gaetz, adding that he had heard a blanket reprieve for anyone involved with the “mentioned” Jan. 6.
In a post-hearing tweet, Gaetz did not refer to any specific accusations, but called the January 6 committee “unconstitutional.”
“The January 6 Committee is an unconstitutional political sideshow. He is rapidly losing the interest of the American people and is now turning to federal law enforcement against political opponents,” Gaetz said.
In a statement to Yahoo News, Gohmert denied seeking clemency for himself and said he sought clemency for other people, specifically “leading US service members.”
“These requests were all long before and completely unrelated to January 6,” Gohmert said. “I had and have nothing to apologize for and my requests were for others not associated with the government in Washington, DC. Any claim to the contrary is unequivocally and maliciously false.”
Asked if Trump had considered a pardon for family members, McEntee said Trump “had hinted at a blanket pardon for Jan. 6 for anyone, but I think he did for all staff and everyone involved. Not with January 6, but just before he left office, I know he had talked about it.”
“The only reason I know of to apologize is because you believe you have committed a crime,” Kinzinger said after the video of the testimony.
After losing a Senate primary in Alabama Tuesday night to a Trump-backed candidate, Brooks said he was open to testifying. in front of the committee. Brooks had exhorted the crowd at Trump’s rally on Jan. 6 before attendees marched on Capitol Hill and rioted.
“Today is the day that patriotic Americans start taking down names and kicking butt,” Brooks said in his speech.
“Now, our ancestors sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes, and sometimes their lives. … Are you willing to do the same? My answer is yes. Stronger! Are you willing to do whatever it takes to fight for America?
Rioters came within 2 doors of Vice President Mike Pence’s office. See how in this 3D explainer from Yahoo Immersive.