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Panel Provides New Evidence That G.O.P. Members of Congress Sought Pardons

At least half a dozen Republican members of Congress sought a pre-emptive pardon from President Donald J. Trump as he fought to remain in office after his defeat in the 2020 election, witnesses have told the Jan. 6 committee, the panel announced Thursday. . †

Mr. Trump “had hinted at a general pardon for the Jan. 6 thing for everyone,” said former head of Mr. Trump’s presidential staff, Johnny McEntee.

Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz seemed to be asking for a wide-ranging pardon, not limited to his role in Mr. Trump’s attempt to reverse the election results. Mr. Gaetz even appealed to the pardon of former President Richard M. Nixon while doing so, testified Eric Herschmann, a White House attorney for Mr. Trump.

“He mentioned Nixon, and I said, ‘Nixon’s grace was never so broad,'” Mr Herschmann said.

Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama sent an email requesting a preemptive pardon for all 147 members of Congress who objected to the certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College victory.

A former adviser to Mark Meadows, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified that Mr. Gaetz, Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona all expressed an interest in pardon.

She also testified that Ohio Representative Jim Jordan “talked about” but did not immediately ask for a pardon, and that she heard newly elected Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene also expressed an interest in the White House counsel’s office.

Taken together, the former White House aides portrayed members of Congress concerned about potential exposure to prosecution in the wake of their support for Mr Trump’s attempts to stay in power. And the bills painted an extraordinary, under-punishment for perjury portrait of attempts to use a president’s broad pardon powers for purely political ends.

In a statement, Mr. Perry to ask for a pardon. “I stand by my statement that I have never asked for a presidential pardon for myself or other members of Congress,” he said. “At no time have I spoken to Ms. Hutchinson, a White House planner, nor any White House staff about pardoning myself or any other member of Congress — this never happened.”

ms. Greene posted a clip of Ms. Hutchinson on Twitter, adding: “If you say ‘I heard’ it means you don’t know. Spreading gossip and lies is exactly what the January 6 Witch Hunt Committee is all about.” And Mr Brooks confirmed he was asking for a clemency, but said it was because he believed the Justice Department would be “abused” by the Biden administration.

The fact that it had evidence that pardon was discussed was pre-reviewed by the committee at an earlier hearing. And the panel previously revealed that a key figure in Mr. Trump’s efforts to undermine election results, conservative attorney John Eastman emailed another Trump attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, after the Capitol riots, with a request to “be informed” pardon list, if still in the works.”

Mr Eastman appeared before the committee and repeatedly invoked his right to the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.

It is unclear whether Mr Gaetz’s reported request for a pardon was caused by concerns about his attempts to reverse the election or other possible crimes. The moment Mr. Gaetz made the request, he had just been subjected to a Justice Department investigation for sex trafficking involving a minor. He has not been charged.

The question of who was pardoned and for what was a source of immense consternation in the final days of the Trump White House. The House selection committee is using the pardon information to describe a broader effort to protect people who carried out Mr Trump’s wishes.

In his final weeks, Trump arbitrarily pardoned former aides who were shocked at not being sure what he thought they had done was criminal, two former officials have said.

One of the concerns Mr. Brooks cited was that he and other Republicans would be targeted by an incoming Justice Department as he sought a pardon from opponents of the certification, as well as supporters of a lawsuit Mr. Vice President Mike Pence rejects Mr. Biden’s Jan. 6 victory.

The Office of White House Counsel and Mr. Herschmann argued vigorously against pardons for members of Congress, and Mr. Trump granted them none.

With just hours left in office, Mr. Trump pardoned Stephen K. Bannon, his former White House adviser, quashing federal charges accusing Mr. Bannon of defrauding political donors who wanted to build a border wall. that Mr Trump had pushed for.

In the weeks leading up to the pardon, Mr. Bannon had taken an active role in his efforts to keep Mr. Trump in office by promoting his fraud claims. He also helped devise a plan — later known as the Green Bay Sweep — to persuade members of Congress to block the normal Electoral College vote count by repeatedly challenging the results in various swing states.

Mr Trump also pardoned his allies who were the target of the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign colluded with Russian officials. Some of them were supporters who also supported and bolstered his efforts to stay in power.

One was Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the FBI about his dealings with a Russian diplomat. The case was later dropped due to concerns over procedural issues.

In the weeks following his pardon around Thanksgiving in 2020, Mr Flynn appeared at so-called Stop the Steal rallies and spoke in support of Mr Trump’s baseless claims that the election had been stolen. In conjunction with others such as businessman Patrick Byrne and pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell, Mr. Flynn also promoted an effort to persuade Mr. Trump to use his national security apparatus to seize voting machines across the country in a attempt to eventually repeat portions of the election.

In late December 2020, Mr. Trump pardoned Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime ally and informal adviser, who was under investigation in connection with the Russia investigation and who maintained his innocence. That move came five months after Mr. Trump commuted Mr. Stone’s 40-month sentence resulting from his conviction on charges of obstructing a congressional investigation into Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and possible ties to Russia.

Just like mr. Flynn, used Mr. Stone’s social media and speaking engagements at Stop the Steal rallies to address Mr. Trump on the election to strengthen and strengthen. Mr Stone has adamantly denied having any personal role in fueling the violence that day.

Luke Broadwater contributed reporting.

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