- Trump said Wednesday that Rep. Matt Gaetz never asked him for a preemptive pardon.
- He also said “it must be remembered” that Gaetz has denied allegations against him.
- It’s the first time Trump has commented on reports that Gaetz is under a federal sex-trafficking investigation.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday weighed in for the first time on the political firestorm surrounding Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and reports that he’s under a federal criminal investigation over whether he had sex with a minor and broke sex-trafficking laws.
Most recently, The New York Times reported that Gaetz asked the White House last year for preemptive pardons for himself and some of his allies.
“Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon,” Trump’s office said in a statement. “It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him.”
Gaetz has insisted that he never engaged in a sexual relationship with a minor or paid for sex. He also claims that the Justice Department’s investigation into him is part of an elaborate, multimillion dollar extortion scheme against his family.
The former president’s statement Wednesday came more than a week after news of the Gaetz sex probe first broke, and as much of the Republican establishment stays mum on the matter. The Daily Beast reported that Trump had, until now, refrained from commenting on the allegations against Gaetz according to the advice of his lawyers.
Few people, if any, from within Trump’s orbit have defended Gaetz, and some former Trump aides have celebrated the controversy.
“He’s the meanest person in politics,” a former White House staffer told Insider last month.
“The reason you haven’t seen people in MAGA world defending Gaetz is less about him being unpopular, which he is in a lot of circles, and more about the fact that he hasn’t done a single thing to make people comfortable to defend him,” a Trump confidant told Politico, adding that Gaetz’s interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson defending himself was “an absolutely embarrassing trainwreck.”
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