WASHINGTON — At least six Republican members of Congress asked White House staff about the possibility of a pardon in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, according to evidence presented by the January 6th Committee on Thursday.
The hearing – the committee’s fifth in a series intended to show the public evidence former President Donald Trump was personally involved in a plan to overturn the 2020 election – focused on efforts to mobilize the Justice Department to publicly promote unfounded election fraud claims. A key element of those efforts was a plan to replace acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen, who had been appointed by Trump after the departure of Attorney General Bill Barr, with one of his subordinates, Jeffrey Clark, who was then the assistant attorney general in charge of the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
That plan was hatched, the committee said Thursday, during a December meeting at the White House. In attendance were Trump, Clark and a number of Republican members of Congress. Among them was Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) who, according to evidence presented by the committee, was asked by Trump to make an introduction with Clark and brought Clark to the meeting.
According to testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to chief of staff Mark Meadows, and John McEntee, the former head of the White House personnel office, Perry would later be one of a group of Republicans who either attended that meeting or were involved in other aspects of Trump’s planning who asked for pardons in the wake of Jan. 6. The six Republican members of Congress specifically identified Thursday as having asked for pardons were:
- Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
- Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)
- Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ)
- Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA)
- Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX)
- Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)
In Gaetz’s case, the request was, according to White House staff who testified before the committee, for a blanket pardon “from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things.” The committee also presented an email sent by Brooks to another White House aide, purportedly on behalf of Trump and Gaetz, recommending a general pardon to “every Congressman and Senator who voted to reject the electoral college vote submissions of Arizona and Pennsylvania” as well as for every Republican who signed an amicus brief in a Texas lawsuit challenging the results of the election. On Jan. 6, 147 Republicans objected to certifying electors from either Arizona or Pennsylvania.
According to White House counsel Eric Herschmann in his testimony before the committee, the pardon request was “as broad as you could describe.”
In a statement to CBS News, Brooks said the letter – a copy of which he shared with CBS reporter Ellis Kim – came over a concern that “Democrats would abuse the judicial system” by prosecuting Republicans who had voted to object to electors.
Biggs also released a statement on his official Twitter account Thursday evening denying he'd ever requested a presidential pardon and suggesting the video of Hutchinson's deposition was "deceptively edited."
Greene, in a Tweet Thursday night, called Hutchinson's testimony "gossip" — noting that she said in her deposition she heard Greene asked the White House Counsel's Office for a pardon — but did not deny asking for one.
Trump did not ultimately offer pardons to any members of Congress after the riot. On his last day in office, he did pardon his former campaign manager, Steve Bannon, who was facing charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering related to the "We Build the Wall" charity. Bannon, who also reportedly helped develop the so-called “Green Bay Sweep” plan with former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, is now facing two misdemeanor charges of contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the committee. Navarro is now scheduled to go to trial in November on the same charges.
We're tracking all of the arrests, charges and investigations into the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Sign up for our Capitol Breach Newsletter here so that you never miss an update.