US Congress(NEW YORK) — Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a loyal Republican, joined the hosts of ABC’s The View Thursday, further defending President Donald Trump for his actions, including the long list of pardons the president handed out this week.
Gaetz, who was one of Trump’s most fervid defenders during the House impeachment inquiry and Senate trial, said his “pardon power” shouldn’t be limited.
“Trump has pardoned 26 people, [former President Barack] Obama pardoned over 1700, [former President Bill] Clinton pardoned 459,” he said, adding, “If you look at the original intent of the pardon power, it cannot be limited.”
On Tuesday, Trump pardoned or commuted sentences for at least 11 individuals, some of whom were avid political defenders and allies of the president. Among the list of high-profile individuals are former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik, who pleaded guilty to felony charges including tax fraud and lying to White House officials after the 9/11 attacks, and former Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich — who attempted to sell the Senate seat left open when former President Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election for campaign money.
Blagojevich — who was supposed to serve time until 2024 — called himself a “Trump-ocrat” after being commuted on Tuesday.
At the same time The View hosts pressed Gaetz on his support of Trump, another long-time friend and adviser of the president, Roger Stone, is being sentenced in federal court. Stone has been charged with obstructing justice, witness tampering and five counts of lying to Congress.
His appearance comes amid a disagreement between line prosecutors and the Justice Department’s recommendation for lessening his sentencing — four of the prosecutors who signed onto the sentencing memorandum withdrew from the case in protest, one of whom even resigned from the Justice Department. Trump also expressed sympathy for Stone on Tuesday, leading to questions about a possible pardon from the president.
When co-host Sunny Hostin asked Gaetz if he thinks Trump should pardon Stone, he said “I do.”
“I would agree that Roger Stone should be pardoned. If for no other reason than people in this country like Peter Struck, Lisa Page, Andrew McCabe … have not faced consequences,” he said.
He was also asked about Trump’s recent designation of the ambassador to Germany — Richard Grenell — as acting director of national intelligence.
When host Joy Behar asked about Grenell and him potentially being a “yes man,” Gaetz stood by the president’s designation.
“If you look at the team he’s assembled with people like [former National Security adviser] John Bolton, the president regularly surrounds himself with people who disagree with him,” Gaetz said. “I think some of the most spirited discussions I’ve had have been with — have been with [Sens.] Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, [and] myself and the president discussing foreign policy.”
Grenell, the first openly gay member designated to a cabinet position, wouldn’t have been allowed to serve in national intelligence 50 years ago, Gawtz pointed out.
“But just for a moment, I would like to take a second to reflect on the fact that this is a good thing in this country that we do not ban gay people from being able to patriotically serve in the intelligence community,” he said, praising Trump for his decision.
Hostin then interrupted, saying, “Just transgendered people.”
“Well we shouldn’t be banning anybody based on who they are and who they love,” Gaetz said. ” That’s not the kind of Republican I am, and it’s not the kind of Republican the president is.”
Gaetz also tore into the Democrats following Wednesday night’s fiery debate in Las Vegas, where former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg took the stage and faced attacks from the other Democratic candidates for the first time.
“It’s fascinating right now that the Democratic party is likely not going to nominate a Democrat,” he said. “They’re either going to nominate a Socialist or someone who some time ago was a Republican.”
He lashed out at former Vice President Joe Biden, who has recently been slipping in the polls.
“What state is he going to win?” Gaetz said about Joe Biden. “I mean, this is a man — the fundamental premise of the Biden campaign is that he is electable, and he can’t seem to win elections.”
Bloomberg has received criticism for the unmatched amount of money he’s spent on his campaign thus far and Gaetz wrote off his campaign strategy, saying he still sees Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as the front-runner.
“Michael Bloomberg spent nearly half a billion dollars and still finds himself with the bronze medal in that poll. This is Bernie Sanders’ party,” Gaetz said on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle.
Still, he said “none of them” can beat the president.
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