Donald Trump on Wednesday said Rep. Matt Gaetz never asked him for a preemptive pardon.
He also said "it must be remembered" that Gaetz had denied allegations against him.
The comments are Trump's first on reports that Gaetz is under a federal sex-trafficking investigation.
Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday weighed in for the first time on the political firestorm surrounding Rep. Matt Gaetz and reports that the Florida congressman is under a federal criminal investigation over whether he had sex with a minor and broke sex-trafficking laws.
Most recently, The New York Times reported that Gaetz asked the White House last year for preemptive pardons for himself and some of his allies.
"Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon," Trump's office said in a statement. "It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him."
Gaetz has insisted that he never engaged in a sexual relationship with a minor or paid for sex. He also has argued that the Justice Department's investigation into him is part of an elaborate, multimillion-dollar extortion scheme against his family.
The former president's statement Wednesday comes more than a week after news of the Gaetz investigation first broke and with much of the Republican establishment staying mum on the matter. The Daily Beast previously reported that Trump had been advised to refrain from commenting on the allegations against Gaetz.
Few people, if any, from within Trump's orbit have defended Gaetz, and some former Trump aides have celebrated the controversy.
"He's the meanest person in politics," a former White House staffer told Insider last month.
"The reason you haven't seen people in MAGA world defending Gaetz is less about him being unpopular, which he is in a lot of circles, and more about the fact that he hasn't done a single thing to make people comfortable to defend him," a Trump confidant told Politico, adding that Gaetz's interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson defending himself was "an absolutely embarrassing trainwreck."
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