Joe Exotic's Lawyers Ask Trump for a Presidential Pardon to Free Him from Prison

Tiger King star Joseph Maldonado-Passage (a.k.a. Joe Exotic) is serving a 22-year federal sentence for trying to hire a hitman to kill Carole Baskin

Tiger King star Joseph Maldonado-Passage (a.k.a. Joe Exotic, a.k.a. the Tiger King) is asking President Donald Trump to pardon him so he can get out of federal prison — and has created a video claiming he is innocent.

Exotic, 57, is imprisoned on a 22-year federal sentence for trying to hire a hitman to kill a rival animal rights activist, Carole Baskin. In the newly-released video, Exotic claims that he was framed of the crime by people who had an axe to grind against him.

The video, obtained by TMZ, asks Trump to pardon him and release him immediately. On the legal front, his team has appealed his conviction and has also filed a $94 malicious prosecution lawsuit against United States Federal Wildlife Service, the United States Department of Interior and former business partner Jeff Lowe.

Exotic's team has also painted a bus red, white and blue, with the words "President Trump, Please Pardon Joe Exotic."

None of the defendants have publicly commented on the lawsuit, and PEOPLE's messages to the government entities and Lowe's attorney were not immediately returned.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump (left) and Joe Exotic. Drew Angerer/Getty; NETFLIX

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TMZ reports that Exotic's team claims that Allan Glover, who testified he was hired to kill Carole Baskin, had a longstanding feud with the zookeeper — and that they believe Glover's testimony against him was "payback." His legal team is asking a judge to throw out the testimony and grant a new trial.

Glover was not charged in the case and has said he had no intention of going through with the hit. He did not immediately return a message from PEOPLE.

Last month, Exotic's husband Dillon Passage, 24, confirmed that the disgraced zookeeper is aware of the series, though he hasn’t seen it yet.

“He’s in jail, so he can’t necessarily watch it, but once the show dropped he was getting hundreds and hundreds of emails to his jail mail, and he was ecstatic,” Passage told Andy Cohen on SiriusXM’s Radio Andy, adding that his husband is “100 percent” enjoying the spotlight.

During a press briefing in April, a reporter asked Trump if he had watched Tiger King and if he would consider a pardon for Joe Exotic. Trump said he didn’t know anything about the case and jokingly asked if the reporters were in favor of a pardon themselves and thought Exotic was innocent.

“Would you recommend a pardon” Trump said, adding, “I don’t think you would.”

He said he would "take a look" at the case.

The White House had no additional comment on Friday.

Updated by Steve Helling
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