U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert asked Trump for a pardon after insurrection, Jan. 6 committee reveals

U.S Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, spoke at a debate for Republican state attorney general candidates in Austin on Feb. 24. (Sergio Flores For The Texas Tribune/Pool, Sergio Flores For The Texas Tribune/Pool)

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U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, was among the members of Congress who asked former President Donald Trump for a pardon after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, according to a testimony shown at a hearing Thursday by the House committee investigating the attack.

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Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, told the committee that Gohmert asked for a pardon. The other Republicans who asked for pardons were Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Hutchinson said.

“The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you’ve committed a crime,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois, one of two Republicans on the House committee.

In a statement Thursday, Gohmert suggested he did not ask for a pardon for himself. He said he made pardon requests “for brave U.S. service members and military contractors who were railroaded by the justice system due to superiors playing politics, as well as a civilian leader who was also wronged by a despicable injustice.” These requests were made prior to and were unrelated to the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to the statement.

He also said the committee hearings have “become nothing more than a Soviet-style propaganda production.”

“I had and have nothing for which to seek a pardon and my requests were for others unassociated with government in Washington, DC. Any assertion to the contrary is unequivocally and maliciously false. Any Committee Members or witness involved should be ashamed for perpetuating such a falsehood, but that would require a conscience to feel such shame."

Gohmert was mentioned several times during Thursday’s hearing, which focused on the coordinated effort by Trump and his allies to convince the Justice Department to investigate voter fraud and help overturn election results.

His chief of staff, who was not directly named during the hearing, was copied on an email that included allies of Trump saying Vice President Mike Pence “would benefit greatly from a briefing” by John Eastman, the architect of the plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Eastman, who began advising Trump in August 2020, authored a memo that outlined the steps Pence should take to throw out the results of the 2020 election by rejecting Biden's winning electoral college count. Pence ultimately went against Eastman and the president, and Trump supporters called for him to be hanged on the day of the insurrection.

Ken Blackwell, a former secretary of state of Ohio, wrote the email on Dec. 28, 2020. Among the recipients of the email was Eastman and Ken Klukowski, a former White House lawyer who joined the Justice Department in December 2020. Klukowski served in the White House as a special counsel to the Office of Management and Budget. He joined the Justice Department to become the legal counsel to the division run by Jeffrey Clark, also a key figure in the plot to overturn the election whom Trump briefly considered naming as attorney general. Federal authorities searched Clark’s home on Thursday.

The revelations are the strongest connections yet established by the committee between a Texas lawmaker and the efforts to undermine Biden’s presidency.

The committee also showed a video of Gohmert targeting Justice Department officials for not investigating the unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud.

“There’s widespread evidence of fraud because people haven’t done their jobs,” Gohmert said in the clip shot on Dec. 3, 2020. “[John] Durham and [William] Barr will deserve a big notation in history when it’s written of the rise and fall of the United States if they don’t clean up this mess, clean up the fraud. Do your jobs and save this little experiment in self-government.”

Barr, Trump’s former attorney general, has said multiple times that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, despite Trump’s insistence to the contrary.

Gohmert has been a member of Congress since 2005. This will be his last year as a congressman after he vacated his seat to challenge Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. He lost in the March primary.

He was the first Texan to be mentioned in the committee's hearings so far. Thursday's hearing was the fifth by the committee, and more will take place in July.

The hearings have shown how Trump and his allies engaged in a thorough and coordinated attempt to convince others of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, with the hopes of overturning the results. The hearings have revealed how members of Trump's inner circle, including his daughter Ivanka, were aware that the allegations of widespread fraud were unsubstantiated — an argument that Barr frequently reiterated in his own testimony to the lawmakers. The committee has also laid out how Trump's allies orchestrated "fake electors" to try to overturn the election results and pressured state officials to discredit the election results.

The committee consists of just two Republicans after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy effectively boycotted Republican participation in the committee, which he and others have blasted as a form of political theater.

Gohmert was early to speak out against the results of the 2020 election.

He joined a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to discard the votes in four swing states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that helped hand Biden the presidency. He also sued Pence days before Jan. 6, 2021, arguing Pence should assert unilateral control over the certification of the election results.

Days before the Jan. 6 attack, the U.S. Capitol Police flagged comments by Gohmert as potentially inciting violence. Speaking on the conservative news network Newsmax, Gohmert said that letting President Joe Biden’s electoral win stand would mean “the end of our republic, the end of the experiment in self-government.”

Gohmert also said on air, “The ruling would be that you got to go to the streets and be as violent as Antifa and [Black Lives Matter].” He later said he was not advocating for violence.

During the insurrection, Gohmert urged people to not be violent. Hours later, Gohmert was among the members of Congress to vote against the certification of the election results in Pennsylvania and Arizona.

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Correction, June 23, 2022: A previous version of this story provided an inaccurate date for the airing of a clip of U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert. The clip of him speaking, which was replayed during the U.S. House committee investigating the insurrection, aired Dec. 3, 2020, not Jan. 3, 2021.

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