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Republican members of Congress sought pardons, according to emails and testimony

An image of former President Donald Trump phoning into a Fox News interview is shown on a screen during Thursday’s U.S. House Select Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. (Reuters/Demetrius Freeman/Pool)

Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and other congressional Republicans sought pardons from then-President Donald Trump after the 2020 election, according to emails and testimony revealed by the Jan. 6 House select committee on Thursday.

The committee showed an email that Brooks sent to the White House on Jan. 11, 2021, with the subject line of “pardons.” 

“President Trump asked me to send you this letter. This letter is also pursuant to a request from Matt Gaetz,” the email said. “As such, I recommend that president give general (all purpose) pardons to the following groups of people,” which included one group of “every congressman and senator who voted to reject the electoral college vote submissions of Arizona and Pennsylvania.”  

Former Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said that Gaetz requested a pardon. “The general tone was, we may get prosecuted because we were defensive of, you know, the president’s positions on these things,” Herschmann said.  

“The pardon that he was discussing, requesting, was as broad as you could describe,” Herschmann said.

John McEntee, another Trump aide, told the committee in a deposition interview played at Thursday’s hearing that Gaetz had told him he’d asked for a pardon. “He told me he’d asked Meadows for a pardon,” McEntee said.

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McEntee added that he also heard discussions about a blanket pardon. “I had heard that mentioned,” he said.  

Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to the former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies in a pre-recorded video shown during the hearing on Thursday.
Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to the former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies in a pre-recorded video shown during the hearing on Thursday. (House Recording Studio)

Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, said at a Dec. 21, 2020, White House meeting there were congressional Republicans who were “advocates” for pardons.

“I guess Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Brooks I know had both advocated there be a blanket pardon for members involved in that meeting and a handful of other members that weren’t at the Dec. 21 meeting as the preemptive pardons,” Hutchinson said. “Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon.” 

Hutchinson also testified that Perry, who played a key role connecting DOJ official Jeffrey Clark to Trump, had sought a pardon, as well as Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona and Louie Gohmert of Texas.

Asked by committee investigators if Perry asked for a pardon to Hutchinson directly, she said, “Yes, he did.”  

Hutchinson also testified that she had heard Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene had “asked for a pardon from (deputy White House counsel Patrick) Philbin,” but that she said she didn’t hear it directly.

Rep. Jim Jordan, Hutchinson said, had not asked for a pardon but “more for an update on whether the White House was going to pardon members of Congress.” 

“Mr. Gohmert asked for one as well,” Hutchinson said.

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