In response to a Tuesday New York Times report that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) requested “blanket pre-emptive pardons for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed,” former President Donald Trump issued a statement on Wednesday denying the report.
“Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon,” Trump wrote, adding: “It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him.”
Trump has taken the same tack with other controversial figures, defending former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and Russian President Vladimir Putin by emphasizing their denials of allegations against them.
The Times reported in 2017:
President Trump broke with leading Republicans on Tuesday and voiced support for Roy S. Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama who has been accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers and has seen his campaign’s prospects imperiled.
“He totally denies it,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Moore, who has been accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl and sexually assaulting another teenager.
And in 2018, Trump defended Putin against his own intelligence community’s assessment that Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
The Times reported, as Trump and Putin met in Helsinki, Finland:
“They said they think it’s Russia,” Mr. Trump said. “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia,” the president continued, only moments after Mr. Putin conceded that he had wanted Mr. Trump to win the election because of his promises of warmer relations with Moscow.
“I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia that was responsible for the election hacking, Mr. Trump added. “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”