Cody Fenwick

The 1st police statement on George Floyd's death resurfaces after guilty verdict — and it's deeply revealing

With the trial of Derek Chauvin over, a jury finding him guilty on three counts for killing George Floyd, an old police statement on the case resurfaced on social media.

The description of the circumstances of Chauvin's death on May 25, 2020, from the Minneapolis Police showed a stark contrast with the events as we now understand them. It's notable for clearly framing Floyd's death as the result of intoxication or a medical condition, leaving out completely the abusive treatment he suffered.

It's worth reprinting the statement in full:

On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress. Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.
Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.
At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called in to investigate this incident at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department.
No officers were injured in the incident.
Body worn cameras were on and activated during this incident.

The attempt to paint Floyd's death as the result of a medical emergency, rather than a police murder, was later echoed in Chauvin's unsuccessful legal defense. There's a long history of police trying to portray Black civilians as responsible for their own wrongful deaths.

Many argued that the statement shows the dangers of relying on police accounts of events in media reports, a lesson recently relevant after officials revealed Officer Brian Sicknick, a member of the Capitol Police who had been reportedly killed in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, actually died of natural causes shortly after the attack. Though it remains unclear to what extent the attack may have contributed to the stroke he suffered.

The Minneapolis police statement left out any mention of the fact that Floyd was dangerously restrained on the ground with a knee on his neck for nearly ten minutes before he died, crying out for help and telling Chauvin that he couldn't breathe. It said the officers "noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress," leaving out any mention that their actions were the cause. They didn't mention that a crowd of bystanders formed at the scene, filming and demanding that Floyd be let go. They didn't mention that an off-duty firefighter, according to her testimony in the trial, was blocked from performing first aid on Floyd when she could see he was in danger.

They tried to avoid taking any responsibility for his death, and they likely could've gotten away with it if the damning video footage hadn't emerged.

Conservatives lose it after the guilty verdict for the murder of George Floyd

While many observers welcomed the jury's finding on Tuesday that Derek Chauvin was guilty of murdering George Floyd, some conservative media figures seemed distinctly perturbed, unsettled, or outraged by the outcome. It seemed that though Floyd's murder was initially was widely condemned, the movement it stirred and demands for changes it spurred from progressives polarized the issue, making some conservatives feel the guilty verdict was a loss for their side.

For example, some pushed the debunked notion that Floyd died from an overdose, rather than the knee on his neck for over 9 minutes:

Some just proclaimed Chauvin's innocence on some or all of the charges:

Others simply spent no time actually recognizing the justice was done and instead switched to attacking potential protesters or rioters for events they merely predicted would occur. Many suggested that the jury and the court felt undue pressure to find Chauvin guilty. And some sent frankly bizarre tweets.

On Fox News, host Greg Gutfeld had one of the most bizarre reactions, condemned from pretty much all sides. He said he thought Chauvin might not be guilty on all counts, but he was glad he was found guilty anyway to avoid potential violence and looting.

"And now I'm just going to just get really selfish," he said. "I'm glad that he was found guilty on all charges. Even if he might not be guilty of all charges."

Some of his own co-hosts, including Jeanine Pirro — who is often herself quite far to the right politically — pushed back on his comments. And she actually offered a surprisingly measured and thoughtful response to the trial.

"The verdict is supported by the facts," she said. "Make no mistake, the facts are solid on this verdict. This verdict will be upheld on appeal."

South Carolina's Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, also supported the result:

Derek Chauvin found guilty on all counts in murder of George Floyd

On Tuesday, after 11 hours of deliberation, the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin found him guilty on all charges in the murder of George Floyd, a man whose death sparked a massive wave of protests in the summer of 2020.

The verdict had been highly anticipated around the country as the trial carried on. Chauvin's attorneys tried to argue that it was reasonable to doubt whether their client had murdered Floyd, suggesting that his health condition and drug use contributed to his death in police custody. However, the prosecution argued that expert testimony, video, and common sense conclusively demonstrated that Chauvin's decision to kneel on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes directly led to his death.

Prosecutors said that Chauvin's use of excessive force was a third-degree assault that killed Floyd, constituting second-degree murder. He was also charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Law enforcement had been on high alert after the trial's closing arguments, as authorities feared an acquittal or other result might trigger more protest and unrest. The National Guard was deployed to Minneapolis, and barricades were brought out around the U.S. Capitol in preparation for the verdict.

Joe Biden's big betrayal of a key promise comes at a terrible time

After a steady increase in pressure from outside groups and questions from the media, the Biden administration officially decided on Friday to break its pledge to lift President Donald Trump's strict limits on refugee admissions for the fiscal year ending in September.

Despite previously pledging to raise the cap on refugees from the extremely low level of 15,000 to 62,500, Biden has reversed himself. During the presidential campaign, Biden pledged to raise the cap to 125,000 in the next fiscal year, and as recently as February, Secretary of State Tony Blinken had told Congress the level set under Trump for this fiscal year would be increased more than fourfold.

Many observers had become increasingly worried about Biden's commitment to following through on this objective as the weeks dragged on without official action. Some reports indicated Biden was worried about the "optics" of raising the refugee cap. CNN's Kaitlan Collins on April 8 pressed White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on the issue given the delay, and Psaki insisted Biden was committed to the increase:

Collins: My last question, sorry, is on the refugee cap that the President has proposed raising to 62,500, but he's not actually formally signed the paperwork yet. Is the White House still committed to raising that cap to 62,500 by this fiscal year?
Psaki: Yes.
Collins: And so we should expect that before October? And it's not going to change from 62,500? -- is my other question.
Psaki: I don't anticipate that. It is -- that it would change, I should say. It is -- remains -- the President remains committed to raising the cap.

But on Friday, the fears of refugee advocates were realized.

The New York Times reported:

A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the decision-making, said the administration grew concerned that the surge of border crossings by unaccompanied minors was too much and had already overwhelmed the refugee branch of the Department of Health and Human Services. But migrants at the border seeking asylum are processed in an entirely separate system than refugees fleeing persecution overseas.

It also noted:

The administration will change subcategories for refugee slots created by the Trump administration that gave priority to Iraqis who had worked for the U.S. military and people, primarily Christians, who are facing religious persecution. But the classification also disqualified most other Muslim and African refugees. As a region, Africa has the most displaced people needing resettlement. An administration official said the change would allow the Biden administration to fill the cap of 15,000, although it would also leave thousands of additional refugees cleared to fly to the United States stranded in camps.

This broken promise from Biden is a cowardly betrayal of his many supporters who were horrified by Trump's aggression toward and disregard for asylum seekers and refugees. Prior to the revelation of Biden's reversal, The Atlantic writer Adam Serwer said on Twitter: "Biden's delay in reversing Trump's discriminatory refugee restrictions is a violation of his campaign promises and the reasons he gave for running in the first place." In a new piece, he wrote:

Restoring "the soul of the nation" cannot mean simply unseating Trump. It also has to mean reversing the policies his administration put in place in an attempt to codify into law his racial and sectarian conception of American citizenship. If Biden cannot do that, then he has restored little more than Democratic control of the presidency. And should he fail to rescind these policies simply because he fears criticism of those who enabled Trump's cruelty to begin with, it will be nothing short of cowardice.
"My faith teaches me that we should be a nation that once again welcomes the stranger and shows a preferential option for the poor, remembering how so many of us and our ancestors came here in a similar way," Biden wrote in 2019. "It's not enough to just wish the world were better. It's our duty to make it so."

So far, Biden has done a lot that is popular — accelerating vaccine distribution, passing the American Rescue Plan, proposing a big infrastructure and spending package. And he may fear that increasing the refugee cap is unpopular and will derail the momentum that he has. Indeed, one Morning Consult poll found that increasing refugee admissions was the only major Biden priority that was unpopular.

But one reason for passing popular policies that meet people's needs is to have more cover and trust with the public when taking values-based policy steps that might trigger some discontent. And it's not as if raising the cap is a bait-and-switch for Biden — he campaigned on letting in more refugees, so he shouldn't feel the need to shy away from it now. It is one of the easiest ways for a president to drastically improve a large number of human lives, saving families from dire conditions in refugee camps, with little or no downside.

And there's likely no upside at all to breaking this promise. The anti-immigrant right wing will not give Biden any credit at all for backing down; instead, it will likely just encourage them to increase their demands even further. They'll cite Biden's capitulation on this promise as evidence that refugees really are a problem, and perhaps say that letting in any refugees is a problem.

This is a particularly terrible time for Biden to be retreating on the immigration issue, too, because anti-immigrant bigotry is resurgent. Fox News's Tucker Carlson, an influential leader in conservatism, is openly endorsing the white supremacist "replacement theory," which Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson recently echoed. And on Friday, a group of far-right Republicans announced the launch of new, openly nativist caucus based on "Anglo Saxon political traditions."

Maybe this increasing sentiment on the right, combined with manufactured right-wing outrage about the border, has spooked Biden into capitulating on this issue. But appeasing this bigotry won't work. It will only embolden it.

Federal judge offers an unprompted warning for Trump: 'Legal consequences' for Jan. 6 may be coming

In a ruling on Wednesday in the case of one of the accused Capitol rioters, U.S. Judge Emmett Sullivan offered a provocative aside about former President Donald Trump's role in the attack.

Sullivan ruled that Jeffrey Sabol of Colorado is too dangerous and too much of a flight risk to be released prior to his trial. Sabol is accused of beating a cop during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, which sought to prevent Congress from officially counting the Electoral College votes that made Joe Biden president.

The judge rejected the argument that Sabol was prompted to engage in the insurrection in the heat of the moment, spurred on by Trump's rally. Evidence suggests, instead, that Sabol engaged in "prior planning" ahead of the attack, Sullivan found, which distinguishes him from rioters who are not being held pre-trial.

"He brought tactical gear, including a helmet, steel-toe boots, zip ties, a radio and an ear piece," Sullivan said. "He later admitted to law enforcement that he had equipped himself with this gear because he anticipated encountering counter-protesters. ... He also maintained, even days after the riot when he believed he was wanted by the FBI, that he had been "fighting tyranny in the D.C. Capitol."

He continued: "The Court is ultimately unpersuaded by Mr. Sabol's argument that he did not plan to commit violence or disrupt the electoral process on January 6, 2021, but rather was caught up in the “frenzy" that was created in part by then-President Trump's, and his associates', words and actions."

Then, in a section of the ruling flagged by journalist Marcy Wheeler, Sullivan indicated he believes Trump and his allies may have significant legal exposure for their roles.

"To be sure, to what extent President Trump's words and actions led to the violent and shocking storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 is an important question, and one that could still have legal consequences for the former President and his prominent supporters," Sullivan wrote, citing a civil lawsuit against the former president. "But President Trump's culpability is not before this Court."

He continued, noting that Trump's own role in spurring the attack would not exonerate Sabol:

To the extent Mr. Sabol raises this issue to suggest he has a complete defense to the criminal charges he faces based on President Trump ostensibly or actually giving the rioters permission to use violence to interfere with the peaceful transition of power, that argument fails for the reasons clearly and thoughtfully articulated by Chief Judge Howell ... Indeed, "even if former President Trump in fact . . . 'told the assembled rabble what they must do' (i.e., attack the Capitol and disrupt the certification of the electoral vote count) and 'ratified their actions,' . . . he acted 'beyond [his] power' as President, . . . and his statements would not immunize defendants charged with offenses arising from the January 6 assault on the Capitol from criminal liability."

While the judge's remarks on their own don't have any legal significance for the former president, they're a useful reminder of a fact that is far too quickly being swept under the rug. The former president had a clear role in the most direct attack on American democracy in memory, and he has not yet been held legally responsible for it. Many others who believed his lies about the election, on the other hand, are suffering dearly. And while there's been significant attention paid to the ongoing investigations of Trump in New York and Georgia, his most egregious violations took place in the American capital.

Tucker Carlson's revealing slip of the tongue stuns observers: 'Every day he becomes more and more explicit'

On Wednesday evening, Fox News host Tucker Carlson let slip a fleeting but surprising turn of phrase that promptly stunned many of his critics.

While discussing the treatment of a man charged as a part of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, Carlson tried to draw a comparison to the case of Bree Newsome, a filmmaker and activist who tore down the Confederate battle flag at the South Carolina statehouse in 2015, leading to her arrest.

But when Carlson described the incident, he didn't describe her tearing down the "Confederate flag," but simply "the flag" — a phrase that in American English typically refers to the American flag.

It was noteworthy for at least two reasons. First, Carlson seemed to be downplaying the commendable political motivations behind Newsome's act of protest. And second, it seemed to suggest his sympathy for and alliance with the Confederacy.

This second point is even more salient when considering the fact that his broader point was a defense of the Capitol insurrection — an event he has consistently tried to downplay — which included a man wielding the flag of the Confederate traitors through the government building as the mob tried to stop the counting of presidential votes.

Many argued that Carlson was quite clearly showing where he stands: with the insurrectionists.

Republicans are making a key tactical mistake as they try to negotiate with Biden

Some Republican senators insist that they want to compromise with President Joe Biden as he tries to enact his agenda. But either they don't really mean it, or they don't understand the basics of negotiation.

Take Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the Republican from West Virginia. After Biden introduced his multi-trillion dollar proposal for an infrastructure and jobs package, she began pushing a pared-down alternative. On Wednesday, she suggested that a bipartisan deal on infrastructure would be a third or less the size of Biden's plan — between $600 and $800 billion. She would cut major Biden priorities from the bill, such as spending on senior care, and she would impose taxes on drivers rather than corporations, as the president has proposed. Oh, and she'd cut funds from Biden's previous spending package to help fund the second one.

And in an interview with PBS Newshour, she explained her thinking about how to negotiate with the president on this front — showing why she's unlikely to make any progress:

She discussed the failed attempts to reach a bipartisan compromise on the president's American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March. Ten Senate Republicans visited the White House to push a similar compromise — cutting Biden's $1.9 trillion for pandemic relief down to $600 billion — but the president ultimately didn't bite. The Democrats ended up enacting a law quite similar to the original Biden plan.

"I was in the meeting with the group of ten, and the president was very engaged in that meeting, and very much pledging to, again, come together in an area that we've had great consensus on, which was Covid relief. But the next day, you know, Leader Schumer is talking about reconciliation, which is a nonstarter for all of us Republicans, I think for the most part," she said. "So we did feel — I wouldn't say burned, I would say, lessons learned here. So I think you see a little bit of tiptoeing on our part in terms of how aggressive is the White House actually going to negotiate."

She continued: "And I always thought that when you negotiate, you come from two different positions, and both people move. That didn't happen. We moved as a group of Republicans. The president never moved and basically left us in the dust."

Her recount of the recent history is accurate, but it doesn't seem she actually learned the lesson of the events. There's a clear reason why Biden didn't move toward the GOP position on Covid relief: Republicans didn't give him anything of value.

With control of the House and Senate, and the use of the budget reconciliation procedure to bypass the filibuster, the Democrats didn't need a single Republican vote to pass the Covid relief bill. And they won't need a single Republican vote to pass the infrastructure bill, either.

In a negotiation, both sides bring something to the table that the other one wants; often they both have to give up something that they would prefer to have to reach an agreement. But critically, the only thing Republicans offered Biden of value in the Covid negotiations was (potentially) their own votes. Their proposal was just to make his proposal smaller – and from his point of view, worse. And since they weren't needed to pass the bill, compromise wasn't of much value to Biden. He probably would have preferred to have their votes than not, but they weren't worth trading away two-thirds of a bill that he thought was good for the country and good for his own political standing. He might have been willing to knock $100 or $200 billion off the total price tag if he could sell it as a bipartisan win, but no Republicans would have been willing to vote for that compromise.

But the Republicans don't seem to get this at all. They just think Biden should want to compromise for the sake of compromising with them. Despite his appeals to the importance of unity, though, there's not much incentive for Biden to weaken his policies to compromise — especially when his proposals poll well with a large majority of the American public. In some ways, he might even be better off if popular legislation is depicted as solely the product of his own party.

If Republicans really wanted to compromise, they'd need to give Biden something of significant value that he can't get without them. That means compromising on policies that won't pass through budget reconciliation, such as immigration reform. But Republicans actually don't even care enough about limiting Biden's spending bills to make any policy concessions on other issues. So they're not really serious about negotiating either.

There's perhaps an even more fundamental problem in the hunt for compromise: Republicans aren't trustworthy negotiation partners. This is a point Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has made about the lessons from the Obama era. Democrats spent so much time trying to reach deals with Republicans, only to have the rugged ripped out from under their feet at the last minute. It was an enormous waste of time and energy, and it likely impeded their ability to make significant progress. It was also quite likely an intentional tactic on the Republicans' part to obstruct the Obama agenda.

If Biden really did pursue a path of trying to negotiate with people like Sen. Capito, he'd probably find history repeating itself. There's no reason to believe she'd actually vote for a $600 billion infrastructure bill in the end if Biden agreed to it — she'd probably find some excuse to oppose it, and the Democrats would realize they'd truncated their own ambitions for no good reason.

The GOP senators haven't taken any serious strides to restore the trust that has broken down between the parties in recent years. And that's just another sign that they're not serious about negotiating, or they've forgotten how to do it, if they ever knew.

Nikki Haley buckles again to Trump in her latest humiliating surrender

Nikki Haley wants to be president. But as she tries to navigate the tides of public opinion, she finds herself repeatedly thrashed about by forces she struggles to understand.

In her latest capitulation to circumstance, Haley reversed herself on President Donald Trump once again. Asked Monday at a press event if she would support Trump in 2024 if he ran for the White House, she was unequivocal.

"Yes," she said "I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it. And I would talk to him about that. That's something that we will have a conversation about, at some point."

As many people pointed out, Haley was singing a very different tune not very long ago. In an excellent profile by Politico's Tim Alberta, Haley predicted that Trump wouldn't run against, and said that his actions in the aftermath of the 2020 election precluded that possibility. She was positively scathing in her assessment of him:

I asked Haley whether she has spoken to Trump since January 6. She shook her head.
"When I tell you I'm angry, it's an understatement," Haley hissed, leaning forward as she spoke. "Mike has been nothing but loyal to that man. He's been nothing but a good friend of that man. … I am so disappointed in the fact that [despite] the loyalty and friendship he had with Mike Pence, that he would do that to him. Like, I'm disgusted by it."
"I think he's going to find himself further and further isolated," Haley said. "I think his business is suffering at this point. I think he's lost any sort of political viability he was going to have. I think he's lost his social media, which meant the world to him. I mean, I think he's lost the things that really could have kept him moving."
I reminded her that Trump has been left for dead before; that the base always rallied behind him. I also reminded her that the argument for impeachment—and conviction—is that he would be barred from holding federal office again.
"He's not going to run for federal office again," Haley said.
But what if he does? Or at least, what if he spends the next four years threatening to? Can the Republican Party heal with Trump in the picture?
"I don't think he's going to be in the picture," she said, matter-of-factly. "I don't think he can. He's fallen so far."
This was the most certainty I'd heard from any Republican in the aftermath of January 6. And Haley wasn't done.
"We need to acknowledge he let us down," she said. "He went down a path he shouldn't have, and we shouldn't have followed him, and we shouldn't have listened to him. And we can't let that ever happen again."

On Monday, though, she had nothing but positive things to say about Trump: "I had a great working relationship with him. I appreciated the way he let me do his job. I thought we did some fantastically great foreign policy things together. And look, I just want to keep building on what we accomplished and not watch it get torn down." (She also noted that he is "opinionated," referencing his recent criticisms of Republicans.)

It was an awkward display for Haley, who had often been accused of turning in whatever direction the wind blows. She was a sharp critic of Trump during the 2016 primary, only to join his administration and praise him effusively. She has tried to break with him in the past at other points, but she has consistently returned to his side, clearly inferring that there's no path for her to the presidency — or even to relevancy in GOP politics — if she makes him an enemy.

Alberta's profile showed Haley to be calculating and ruthless, driven primarily by a sense of her own personal advantage. In one event that stood out, however, he describes her as taking a bold risk to get the Confederate Flag taken down from the state capitol in South Carolina when she was governor, motivated in part by her moral conviction and her own experiences with racism. The gambit paid off, making her stand out as a powerful and seemingly principled political actor. It's possible she thought that speaking out against Trump after Jan. 6 could be a similarly galvanizing moment for her.

That's not the way it's playing out.

A Republican's 'self-own' on Biden’s infrastructure plan shows how the GOP got caught in a bind

On Wednesday evening, Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn sent out a series of tweets attempting to attack President Joe Biden's big push for a new infrastructure bill, called the "American Jobs Plan." But many critics argued that her attacks landed with a thud. Instead of casting Biden or the plan in a negative light, she showed why the GOP will likely find itself in a bind as it tries to attack the Democrats' next big priority.

Her attacks entailed spelling out components of the package:

While some of these items may rile up the base, which is dismissive of climate change, none of the attacks seem likely to turn the public against the plan. It may be true that President Biden is trying to "push through a liberal agenda," but isn't that what one should expect from a Democratic president? Democrats even decided to use her own graphics to promote the plan:

And in fact, the plan is extremely popular. Data for Progressive, a left-leaning polling group, found:

Among all likely voters, we find that the American Jobs Plan is backed by a 52-percentage-point margin (73 percent support, 21 percent oppose). Notably, support for this proposal is bipartisan, garnering an impressive 19-point margin of support from Republicans (57 percent say they support the plan, while 38 percent oppose).

Blackburn's last tweet pointed to the large funding for elder care in the bill, attempting to argue that the plan isn't really about "infrastructure" as Democrats claim. But it's hard to see why voters should really care if every piece of an "infrastructure" bill fits some technical definition of "infrastructure" — what they should care about is whether the bill's components are good ideas. Quibbles about the definitions of different types of funding are quintessentially Washington preoccupations — hardly the type of thing the median voter cares about.

And according to Data for Progress, support for the "care economy" portions of the bill is among the highest of all the components, with 74 percent supporting the idea and only 18 percent opposing it.

Blackburn's tweet plays into a narrative that has been emerging on the right that the plan isn't really about "infrastructure." But ironically, these kinds of attacks may undermine rather than support GOP opposition, because they draw attention to features of the bill that many Americans — indeed, many Republicans — really like.

The Tennessee Republican even undermined her own argument that the "proposal is about anything but infrastructure," since that claim directly followed a tweet about $220 billion for green transportation, which pretty clearly does fall under any reasonable definition of "infrastructure."

And though conservatives might think they can score some points with their own voters by trolling Democrats for caring about green energy and climate change, such appeals are likely to be limited and alienating to most voters. Data for Progress found that 64 percent of voters support spending on clean energy, and only 26 percent of voters oppose it. The right-wing view that focusing on cleaner energy is a waste is deeply unpopular.

Sean McElwee, the executive director of Data for Progress, argued that Blackburn's approach made the problems in the GOP messaging self-evident:

Of course, Republicans won't (and believe they can't) support Biden's proposal for their own political reasons, so they're left either attacking ideas that are quite popular and hoping they can convince the public they're bad, or they can sit back and let Biden enact an extremely popular agenda. Though Republicans could get lucky and still end up with a political advantage in the end, neither messaging approach is that promising for the party. They'll also likely focus on criticizing the high cost of the plan, but that's not likely to be compelling to voters, either, since the GOP was happy to spend trillions upon trillions when Donald Trump was president.

NYT report finds Matt Gaetz tried to get a 'blanket pardon' from Trump while under federal investigation

Rep. Matt Gaetz sought a blanket pardon for himself and other allies from President Donald Trump in the last weeks before he left office, according to a new report in the New York Times, but that effort failed.

Gaetz "privately asked the White House for blanket pre-emptive pardons for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed, according to two people told of the discussions," the report said.

It's not clear, according to the reporting, exactly what Gaetz's motivation was for seeking the pardon was. But the Times had previously reported that Gaetz was and is under scrutiny from the Justice Department for potentially sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl. Other reports have confirmed this finding and suggested that the investigation may include a broader scope of his conduct. The Times noted that the investigation of Gaetz appears to have begun back around the summer of 2020.

Gaetz has denied any allegation of wrongdoing, though he has deflected by claiming he is generous with romantic partners.

The Times reported that Gaetz came under scrutiny because of a related investigation into his friend Joel Greenberg, who has already been indicted on sex trafficking charges. Those charges were public by the time Gaetz was pushing for Trump pardons.

He wasn't exactly doing it covertly, either. On Fox News in November, he called for Trump to wield his pardon power liberally to protect himself and his allies:

Many noted it was a bizarre comment to make at the time. But it makes more sense if, as the Times reported, Gaetz was also pushing behind closed doors to get a blanket pardon. A spokesperson for Gaetz told the Times that its sources were conflating Gaetz's public calls for pardons with direct requests.

"In recent days, some Trump associates have speculated that Mr. Gaetz's request for a group pardon was an attempt to camouflage his own potential criminal exposure," the Times said.

Even though Trump's use of the pardon power to reward friends and allies was widely seen as abusive and corrupt, a blanket pardon for someone like Gaetz would've been even more egregious than most on his record, since it would serve to cover up any and all past federal crimes the Florida Republican may have committed without any chance for accountability. Trump never issued a pardon for Gaetz or any other such blanket pardon.

It's also not clear if the report is related directly to the Gaetz, but it's worth recalling that on Jan. 19, CNN reported:

Several Republican lawmakers who are alleged to have been involved in the rally that preceded the deadly riot on the US Capitol have sought clemency from Trump before he leaves office, but after meeting with his legal advisers for several hours on Saturday, the President decided he would not grant them, according to two people familiar with his plans.
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