Mr. Gaetz has denied having sex with a 17-year-old or paying for sex. A spokesperson denied asking for a pardon in private as part of the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation.
Entry-level political operatives have mistaken a plea for pardon from Representative Gaetz – where he called on President Trump to forgive ‘everyone from himself, to his administration, to Joe Exotic’ – with these partisan allegations false and increasingly bizarre against him, ”the spokesperson said in a statement. “These comments have been recorded for some time, and President Trump even retweeted the congressman, who tweeted them himself.
Although Mr. Gaetz has little formal power in the House, where he remains a backbench MP, he offered Mr. Trump what he dreamed of and what Republican leaders in Congress wouldn’t always offer: fierce loyalty and a taste for naked political combat.
In his memoir published last fall, “Firebrand: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the MAGA Revolution,” Mr. Gaetz recalled his first one-on-one telephone interview with the president in late 2017. Mr. Trump had seen Mr. Gaetz on Fox News was attacking Robert S. Mueller III, the special advocate, and believed to have heard from an ally.
“I need warriors, you know what I mean? the president told him.
Mr. Gaetz knew this precisely. Despite coming from the more conservative Florida Panhandle, the young congressman shared Mr. Trump’s taste for bragging, especially sexual exploits, and a knack for self-promotion. Neither was particularly impressed with the attributes of traditional power in Washington, and both were sons of powerful men. Mr. Gaetz’s father, Don Gaetz, was the President of the Florida Senate and a wealthy businessman, and Mr. Trump’s father, a successful real estate developer in New York City.
After Democrats took over the House in 2018 and began pressuring the Trump administration, Mr. Gaetz emerged as a standout player in what he called the “warrior class” of lawmakers who gave themselves mission to protect the president.
“The President called me when I was in my car, asleep in the middle of the night on my Longworth Office bed, on the throne, on planes, in nightclubs, and even in the throes of passion ( yes, I answered), ”Mr. Gaetz boasted in his book.