Trump Addresses Whether He Will Consider Pardoning Tiger King’s Joe Exotic During Coronavirus Briefing
Trump said he hasn't seen the show, but jokingly said he'll "take a look" at Joe Exotic's case
President Donald Trump joked that he would “take a look” at the possibility of giving Tiger King subject Joe Exotic a presidential pardon when asked about the case by a reporter during Wednesday’s daily coronavirus briefing.
Steven Nelson, a reporter from the New York Post, asked Trump whether he’d seen the show and whether he’d consider giving Exotic a pardon.
Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence after he was found guilty last April of hiring a hitman to kill a rival animal rights activist Carole Baskin.
“I know nothing about it,” Trump, 73, said. “He has 22 years for what? What did he do?”
The Post reporter explained that Exotic says he was wrongfully accused of hiring a hitman to kill Baskin. Conflicting interviews from subjects in the Netflix series has led many viewers to wonder if Exotic is guilty or not.
“Do you think he didn’t do it?” Trump asked the reporter. “Are you on his side? Are you recommending a pardon?”
“As a reporter, you’re not allowed to do that,” Trump continued. “You’d be criticized by these — would you recommend a pardon?” Trump then turned to ask CNN’s Jim Acosta, whom the president has quarrelled with during press conferences in the past.
“I’m not commenting on Tiger King,” Acosta responded before Trump moved on to the next question and the briefing about the pandemic continued.
At least 14,000 people in the United States have died because of the coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon and there’s been more than 418,000 confirmed U.S. cases, according to a New York Times tracker.
The question about Exotic came up during the briefing in part because President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., has recently been posting memes about the Netflix true crime series and joking about a potential pardon in interviews.
Don Jr., 42, posted a bizarre photoshopped image on Instagram last week that morphed his father President Trump’s face with Exotic’s visage.
“Hahahahaha I love the internet. I heard about this guy,” Trump’s oldest son wrote in the caption.
On Monday, Trump Jr. joked about lobbying his father to pardon Exotic’s sentence.
RELATED VIDEO: Inside Tiger King Joe Exotic’s Obsession with Carole Baskin: ‘It’s the Worst Kind of Love Story’
“He’s asking for a presidential pardon,” SiriusXM host Sam Roberts told Trump Jr. during his interview on the Jim Norton and Sam Roberts show, according to Fox News.
“I have heard that, is that true? You guys really want it to be true, don’t you?” Trump Jr. said.
Roberts joked that Trump Jr. could ask his dad for a meeting and then ask the president to pardon Exotic.
“Maybe not right now, but I can generally be for this just for the meme,” Trump Jr. said back. “And just for frankly watching the media reaction to this thing. It would be pretty amazing to ultimately see that.”