Trump Asked If He Would Consider Pardon for 'Tiger King' Star Joe Exotic Amid Crisis


President Donald Trump was asked an unexpected question during the White House’s coronavirus press briefing.

During Wednesday’s press briefing, a New York Post reporter asked the president if he would consider a pardon for Joseph Maldonado-Passage, known as Joe Exotic.

Maldonado-Passage was found guilty in January for a 2017 murder-to-hire plot to kill an animal rights activist, Carole Baskin.

He was “found guilty of nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act” and “convicted on another eight counts of violations to the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records for ‘interstate’ transactions,” as NBC News reports. The former wildlife park owner was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison.

Asked if he would consider a pardon for the Netflix star of the documentary series “Tiger King,” Trump said, “I don’t know, I know nothing about it.”

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The reporter pointed out Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., recently spoke about this during an interview on SiriusXM’s “Jim Norton and Sam Roberts” radio show. Donald Trump Jr. joked about lobbying for a pardon for “Joe Exotic,” though he noted that he did not “even know exactly what he was charged with.”

The reporter continued to discuss the topic with the president, to which the president responded, “Do you think he didn’t do it? Are you on his side? Are you recommending a pardon? As a reporter, you’re not allowed to do that, you’d be criticized by these [other journalists].”

President Donald Trump then turned to another reporter to ask, “Would you recommend a pardon?” The reporter responded, “I’m not weighing in.”

“I’ll take a look,” the president then said.

See the exchange below:

The question by the reporter during the time of a pandemic drew reaction on Twitter, including from MSNBC’s Joy Reid.

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“Still processing the fact that some reporter at the latest ‘presidential coronavirus briefing’ actually asked Trump if he would pardon the guy from Tiger King,” Reid wrote. “This season of The Presidential Apprentice is really awful.”

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