Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Rep. Matt Gaetz
Among the many revelations surfaced in the ongoing hearing by the U.S. House committee investigating the riots of Jan. 6, 2021 is that a group of House Republicans — including Reps. Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Scott Perry — sought pardons from former President Donald Trump in his final weeks in office.
Day five of the hearings — which examine the events leading up to the attacks and how Trump and his allies responded — included testimony from former White House aides that Gaetz and Brooks sought a blanket pardon for members of Congress involved in the former president's attempt to overturn his defeat.
But according to former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchsinson, Gaetz had been seeking a pardon since early December, one month before the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
"Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early December," Hutchinson said, adding: "I'm not sure why. Mr. Gaetz had reached out to me to ask if he could have a meeting with Mr. Meadows about receiving a presidential pardon."
Hutchinson's testimony was backed up by several others in Trump's orbit, including former White House senior advisor Eric Herschmann, who said: "The pardon that [Gaetz] was discussing, requesting, was as broad as you could describe, from... the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things."
Herschmann continued: "He had mentioned Nixon. And I said Nixon's pardon was never nearly that broad."
According to various outlets, Gaetz, 40, is currently the subject of a grand jury investigation into whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid her to travel with him. News of the investigation into Gaetz first broke last March and, according to The New York Times, was opened in the final months of the Trump administration, under then-Attorney General Bill Barr.
Gaetz has not been charged with any crime and has denied any wrongdoing, previously insisting to multiple news outlets that the overarching case was "rooted in an extortion effort" against him.
In pre-recorded testimony that was aired Thursday, Hutchinson also testified that Biggs, Gohmert and Perry had contacted the White House to inquire about securing pardons. Hutchinson also testified that she heard Georgia Rep. Greene had asked for a pardon, as well.
In a tweet, Greene suggested the testimony relied on hearsay, writing: "Saying 'I heard' means you don't know."
In an opening statement on day one of the hearings, Vice Chair Liz Cheney — the top Republican on the House committee — said "multiple" Republican lawmakers contacted the Trump administration seeking presidential pardons in the wake of the attacks. Among them, she added, was Republican Perry, who "has refused to testify here."
"As you will see, Rep. Perry contacted the White House in the weeks after Jan. 6 to seek a presidential pardon," Cheney said, adding: "Multiple other Republican congressmen also sought presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election."
A Perry spokesperson told Axios that the allegation that Perry sought a pardon was, "Laughable, ludicrous and a thoroughly soulless lie."
According to testimony and documents obtained by the lawmakers investigating the riots, Perry texted former chief of Staff Meadows days prior to the riots, writing: "Mark, just checking in as time continues to count down. 11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration. We gotta get going!"
None of those mentioned in the hearing actually did secure a pardon, though Trump granted 143 pardons and 94 commutations during his time in office.