The January 6th committee just released another batch of transcripts from their year-and-a-half-long investigation. They include a range of figures, from activists Kyle Kremer and Caroline Wren who played a central part in planning Jan. 6, to more tertiary characters in the ongoing drama like former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and former White House aide Johnny McEntee, who is the focal point of this particular story.
McEntee, who was 29 years old at the time, was briefly deemed “deputy president” during the Capitol insurrection. His transcript spans a thick 191 pages as a result, but hidden among them is a tidbit about an entirely separate political scandal: The reported investigation into whether Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R) violated sex trafficking laws.
The Florida Republican has reportedly been under investigation for potentially trafficking a 17-year-old girl since late 2020. His buddy and alleged accomplice Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector, was recently sentenced to 11 years in prison for his involvement in the case. Meanwhile, Gaetz is still standing, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be charged any time soon: Both Greenberg’s sentencing, and reports from those close to the investigation, suggest it may wind down with the congressman untouched.
We knew Gaetz sought a presidential pardon from White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to sidestep the whole ordeal. Tuesday’s transcript adds new details from McEntee.
“He told me to ask Meadows for a pardon,” McEntee said.
The former aide claims that he’d had dinner with the congressman — or rather, “I had dinner. He didn’t eat.” — either before or after January 6th. When a federal investigator asked him to recall the details of the conversation, McEntee responded:
“That they’re launching an investigation into him, or that there is an investigation into him, and he didn’t do anything wrong, but they’re going to try to make his life hell. And, you know, if the President could give him a pardon, that would be great. Something along those lines.”
McEntee claimed he’d had little interaction with the congressman before that point. “I just interacted with him on the road, traveling with the President over the years,” he told the panel.
But when McEntee brought the issue of the pardon up to unidentified White House staffers, he was allegedly told “no, we’re not doing that.”