The report comes as Gaetz faces a Department of Justice investigation into an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and related allegations of violating the sex trafficking law before Trump stepped down. It is unclear whether Trump’s White House or Gaetz knew about the investigation when Gaetz made the reported pardon request, according to the Times.
In a statement in two sentences on Wednesday, Trump also stressed that Gaetz “has completely denied the allegations against him”. Trump’s brief statement broke the silence of Trump and his allies on allegations against Gaetz, one of the former president’s strongest supporters in Congress.
Gaetz told POLITICO on Tuesday evening that he stood by an earlier statement in which he denied having asked Trump for forgiveness.
“The recent false allegations against me are not something I have ever discussed with Trump, pardons or otherwise,” he said.
Trump distributed a Wave of pardons before resigning, including for rapper Lil Wayne, former aide Steve Bannon and some embarrassed ex-lawmakers.
Amid the allegations, Gaetz’s communications director Luke Ball, left Gaetz’s team. Gaetz’s office said in a statement that the two “agreed that it would be best to split up”. NBC News, first to report his departuresaid that Ball has resigned.
Few legislators have defended Gaetz since the allegations surfaced. His defense lawyers included arsonist Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Who lost her committee duties earlier this year, and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who was accused of covering up sexual abuse allegations he made denied.
Gaetz wrote in a comment earlier this week that he would not resign.