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New York Times: Matt Gaetz asked for preventive pardon in final weeks of Trump presidency

The Florida Republican’s request was viewed by White House officials as a non-starter, people told The Times, and was ultimately never granted.

But the effort is fueling further scrutiny of Gaetz after it became public that the Justice Department was investigating allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution, including involving a minor, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

The Times reported on Tuesday that it is unclear what Gaetz knew about the investigation at the time of his request and that he did not tell White House aides when he asked for the pardon he was doing. under investigation.

Some Trump associates have theorized in recent days that Gaetz’s request for multiple pardons – not just for himself – was a move to cover up his own potential legal exposure, the newspaper said.

A Gaetz spokesperson, however, denied to The Times that his pardon request was linked to the Justice Department’s investigation.

Entry-level political operatives have mistaken a plea for pardon from Representative Gaetz – where he called on President Trump to forgive ‘everyone from himself, to his administration, to Joe Exotic’ – with these false and increasingly bizarre partisan allegations against him, ”the spokesperson told the media outlet.

“These comments have been recorded for some time, and President Trump even retweeted the congressman, who tweeted them himself.”

Gaetz has denied all allegations made against him since news broke that federal investigators are examining if he had sex with a 17-year-old girl, CNN and The New York Times reported. The Times first disclosed the Gaetz investigation.

A person briefed on the investigation confirmed to CNN that federal authorities were investigating Gaetz as part of a larger investigation into trafficking allegations against another Florida politician, an investigation which began in the last few months of the department. of Justice of the Trump Era under Attorney General William Barr.

CNN previously reported that investigators were examining whether Gaetz’s involvement with other young women violated federal sex trafficking and prostitution laws, according to the person briefed on the investigation and another person briefed on the matter. Investigators are also pursuing witness claims and other evidence that Gaetz used money and drugs in his dealings with young women, the sources said.

Gaetz has not been charged with any crime and the investigation is still in its early stages, according to people familiar with the matter.

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