Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz told Roger Stone that “the boss” Donald Trump would pardon him if the longtime GOP agent was convicted in his 2019 trial of obstructing a congressional investigation, according to newly uncovered audio.
Stone was eventually found guilty and pardoned by the former president.
But weeks before the trial, Gaetz Stone said backstage during an event at one of Trump’s golf courses that he would not serve a day in jail after hearing “directly” from the ex-president about his affinity for his longtime ally.
“The boss still has a very positive opinion of you,” Gaetz said, according to the Washington Post. “I don’t think the big guy can let you go for that.”
Stone noted that Trump sent him this message “from time to time.”
The comments were captured by a microphone on Stone’s lapels as he was filming for the feature-length documentary A Storm Foretold, due for release later this year.
They were among the speakers at AMPFest, a right-wing event held in 2019 at Trump’s National Doral Golf Club in Florida.
Gaetz, who was and remains one of Trump’s most vocal allies in Congress, was also caught in the recording alleging that the then-president “insulted” him at a Christmas party about the Florida legislature calling for a departure from the Capitol Hill consider.
He is currently facing a federal sex trafficking investigation that was uncovered earlier this year for allegedly having relationships with an underage girl.
Gaetz said of Trump: “He had heard a rumor that I might not run for re-election and at the Christmas party he berated me before my date. Like, directly insults me.’
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz is one of the most vocal defenders of Donald Trump in Congress
He was recorded assuring longtime Republican agent Roger Stone that Trump would pardon him if found guilty, which Stone ended up being
AMPFest host and conservative commentator Benny Johnson reportedly told Gaetz it was a “net positive” to be approached by the president before a date.
“This is an alpha move,” Johnson reportedly said.
In a clip of the recording released by the Post, Stone can be heard telling Gaetz of his indictment that he “will fight it to the bitter end.”
“I’m going to hit the ground hard, though,” Stone said.
Gaetz replied, “Yes, but I don’t think you’re going to go down at all at the end of the day.”
Stone noted that his trial is three weeks away.
He continued, “Maybe I need to turn to the big man.”
“This is the District of Columbia. We interviewed 120 judges. Ninety of them know who I am and they hate my guts,” Stone complained.
Gaetz agreed he was “f****d,” but added, “Well, at trial, I still think you’re not going to make a tag.”
Stone was among the most high-profile people involved in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
While other former Trump allies distanced themselves from the then-president in the midst of the investigation, Stone remained defiant, insisting he would not testify against the commander in chief.
Trump (pictured at his New Jersey golf course on July 30) has repeatedly denounced the Robert Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”
In return, Trump hailed Stone as “very brave” and publicly praised him despite attacking critics.
Stone told Gaetz at AMPFest, “It would have been easy to get that off, but I couldn’t live with myself.”
At the time, the House Judiciary Committee — of which Gaetz is a member — was investigating whether Trump was obstructing justice by publicly seeking pardons for Stone and disgraced former General Michael Flynn.
In a response to the Post, Gaetz claimed that his certainty about Stone’s fate was similar to public statements he made at the time.
The congressman also claimed that the entire recording was illegal due to Florida’s consent-before-recording-conversation laws.
“There is nothing illegal about this recording,” claimed filmmaker Christoffer Guldbrandsen, noting that Gaetz has stopped discussing his work and lobbying for a pardon on Stone’s behalf.
Gaetz told Stone on the recording, “With lots and lots of recording equipment out there right now, I don’t feel in a position to speak freely about the work I’ve already done on this subject.”
Trump had repeatedly denounced Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” and a “hoax”.
It’s still stuck in his mind now that the former president has brought up the investigation in several recent public appearances.