Gaetz told McEntee that he had asked White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for a pardon.
Asked by investigators if Gaetz’s request for a pardon was in the context of the Justice Department investigation into whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, McEntee replied, “I think that was the context, yes,” according to people familiar with the testimony who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
The testimony is the first indication that Gaetz was specifically seeking a pardon for his own exposure related to the Justice Department inquiry into whether he violated sex trafficking laws.
The Justice Department investigation into whether Gaetz paid for sex, paid for women to travel across state lines to have sex, and had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old, was opened in the final months of the Trump administration with approval from Attorney General William P. Barr.
The probe stemmed from a federal investigation of Gaetz’s friend who is now a convicted sex trafficker.
Gaetz has denied paying for sex or having sex with a minor as an adult.
A spokesperson for Gaetz declined to address the testimony or whether Gaetz discussed a pardon with McEntee or Meadows and instead responded that Gaetz never directly asked Trump for a pardon. »