Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., was among GOP congressmen seeking 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 uprising.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who presided over much of Thursday’s hearing, highlighted a Jan. 11 email Brooks sent to a White House aide recommending pardons for himself, Gaetz, and the 147 Republican members of Congress “who voted to reject the Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral college submissions.”
Following the hearing, Brooks shared a copy of his email to Molly Michael, Trump’s executive assistant, with reporters.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former special assistant to Trump, said in pre-recorded testimony that Gaetz and Brooks had called for a general, preemptive pardon for multiple members and that Gaetz personally pushed for a pardon for himself. Hutchinson also said Gaetz had been pushing for a pardon “since early December”, but she wasn’t sure why.
Hutchinson also said representatives Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Louie Gohmert, R-Texas and Scott Perry, R-Pa. all asked for grace. She said that while Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., had not personally contacted Hutchinson for a pardon, Hutchinson “had heard that [Greene] had asked the White House counsel’s office for a pardon from [deputy counsel Pat Philbin]†
Hutchinson added that Representative Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, had asked her if the White House would pardon members of Congress, but hadn’t specifically asked her to pardon himself.
In a pre-recorded video testimonial of his own, former White House senior adviser Eric Herschmann said Gaetz was seeking a particularly broad pardon.
“The general tone was that we could be prosecuted for defending the president’s views on these matters,” Herschmann said of Gaetz. “The grace he discussed and asked for was as broad as you could describe – from the dawn of time to today for all things.”
Gaetz is currently under investigation by the Ministry of Justice for allegedly paying for sex with a 17-year-old and violating sex trafficking laws by transporting her across state lines. In April 2021, the New York Times reported that in the closing weeks of Trump’s tenure, Gaetz had “privately asked the White House for a general preemptive pardon for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed, according to two people who spoke about the discussions.”
In addition, former director of the White House presidential personnel office, John McEntee, said he knew Gaetz had asked for a pardon.
“He Told Me He’d Asked” [White House chief of staff Mark Meadows] for a pardon,” McEntee said of Gaetz, adding that he had heard a general pardon for everyone involved in January 6 “mentioned.”
When asked if Trump had considered a pardon for family members, McEntee said Trump had “alluded to a general pardon for the January 6th thing for everyone, but I think he had for all the staff and everyone involved. Not by January 6, but just before he left office, I know he talked about that.”
“The only reason I know of asking for a pardon is because you think you’ve committed a crime,” Kinzinger said after the video of the testimony.
After losing an Alabama Senate primaries Tuesday night to a Trump-approved candidate, Brooks said he was open to testifying for the committee. Brooks had urged the crowds gathered at the Trump rally on Jan. 6 before those in attendance marched to the Capitol and rioted.
“Today is the day that American patriots are going to take names and break up,” Brooks said in his speech.
“Now our ancestors have sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes and sometimes their lives. … Are you willing to do the same? My answer is yes. Louder! Are you willing to do whatever it takes to fight for America?”