Donald Trump has broken his week-long silence on sex trafficking allegations against Matt Gaetz to deny claims the Florida congressman sought a preemptive presidential pardon.
The former president backed one of his most loyal supporters to dispute reporting in The New York Times that Mr Gaetz wanted “blanket preemptive pardons” for crimes potentially committed.
“Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon. It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him,” Mr Trump said in a statement.
Quoting two people “told of”, but not part of, the discussion, the Times claimed that Mr Gaetz was one of Mr Trump’s most vocal loyalists but sought pardons for himself and congressional allies in return.
The two sources claimed that aides told Mr Trump of the request but that it was unclear if he and Mr Gatez discussed it directly. The White House lawyers and officials viewed the request, in the last week of the presidency, as a nonstarter that would set a bad precedent, the Times reported.
In his short statement on the vast scandal engulfing Mr Gatez, the former president also highlighted that the embattled congressman also “totally denied” the allegations, also first reported by theTimes.
Trump family holds funeral service for brother Robert at White House
Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump and their family joined a funeral procession from the White House as the body of the president’s late brother Robert Trump was carried into a hearse on Friday.
Robert Trump, the president’s younger brother, died on 16 August.
He was 71. Details of his illness have not been released.
Bagpipes played alongside the procession as pallbearers carried Robert Trump’s casket into a hearse waiting near the North Portico of the White House. A service was held in the East Room, which has rarely been used for funeral services. A service was held in that location for former president John F Kennedy following his assassination in 1963.
In 1936, when Franklin D Roosevelt hosted a service for his political adviser Louis Howe.
Robert Trump was among four of the president’s siblings and had served as an executive vice president of the Trump Organisation.
The president visited his brother in hospital in New York prior to his death. In a statement, the president said: “He was not just my brother, he was my best friend. He will be greatly missed, but we will meet again.
“His memory will live on in my heart forever,” he said. “Robert, I love you. Rest in peace.”
Although he did not reveal the cause of his brother’s death, Mr Trump told reporters that his brother had been “having a hard time” over the past few months.