Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a loyal Republican, joined the hosts of ABC’s "The View" Thursday, defending President Donald Trump, saying his "pardon power" shouldn't be limited.
"Trump has pardoned 26 people, [former President Barack] Obama pardoned over 1,700, [former President Bill] Clinton pardoned 459," he said, adding "If you look at the original intent of the pardon power, it cannot be limited."
On Tuesday, Trump pardoned or commuted sentences for 11 individuals, some of whom were avid political defenders and allies of the president. Among the list was former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik, who plead guilty to felony charges including tax fraud and lying to White House officials after the 9/11 attacks, and former Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- who attempted to sell the Senate seat left open when former President Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election for campaign money.
At the same time "The View" hosts pressed Gaetz on his support of Trump, another long-time friend and adviser of the president, Roger Stone, was sentenced in federal court. Stone -- who has been charged with obstructing justice, witness tampering and five counts of lying to Congress -- was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison and fined $20,000.
Stone's appearance came amid a disagreement between line prosecutors and the Justice Department’s recommendation for lessening his sentence -- four of the prosecutors who signed onto the sentencing memorandum withdrew from the case in protest, one of whom even resigned from DOJ. Trump also expressed sympathy for Stone on Tuesday, leading to questions about a possible pardon from the president.
When co-host Sunny Hostin asked Gaetz if he thinks Trump should pardon Stone, Gaetz said, "I do."
"I would agree that Roger Stone should be pardoned. If for no other reason than there has been a double standard in this country where people like Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Andrew McCabe ... have not faced consequences."
He was also asked about Trump's recent designation of the ambassador to Germany -- Richard Grenell -- as acting director of national intelligence.
When host Joy Behar asked about Grenell's loyalty to Trump, Gaetz stood by the president's designation.
"If you look at the team he's assembled with people like [former National Security adviser] John Bolton, the president regularly surrounds himself with people who disagree with him," Gaetz said. "I think some of the most spirited discussions I've had have been with -- have been with [Sens.] Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, [and] myself and the president discussing foreign policy."
Grenell, the first openly gay member designated to a cabinet position, wouldn't have been allowed to serve in national intelligence 50 years ago, Geatz pointed out.
"But just for a moment, I would like to take a second to reflect on the fact that this is a good thing in this country that we do not ban gay people from being able to patriotically serve in the intelligence community," he said, praising Trump for his decision.
Hostin then interrupted, saying, "Just transgendered people."
"Well we shouldn't be banning anybody based on who they are and who they love," Gaetz said. " That's not the kind of Republican I am, and it's not the kind of Republican the president is."
Grennell tweeted on Thursday that his role will not be permanent: "The President will announce the Nominee (not me) sometime soon."
Gaetz also tore into the Democrats following Wednesday night’s fiery debate in Las Vegas, where former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg took the stage and faced attacks from the other Democratic candidates for the first time.
"It's fascinating right now that the Democratic party is likely not going to nominate a Democrat," he said, referencing Sen. Bernie Sanders and Bloomberg respectively. "They're either going to nominate a Socialist or someone who some time ago was a Republican."
He lashed out at former Vice President Joe Biden, who has recently been slipping in the polls.
"What state is he going to win?" Gaetz said. "I mean, this is a man -- the fundamental premise of the Biden campaign is that he is electable, and he can't seem to win elections."
When asked by the hosts who he thought could beat Trump in the general election, Gaetz responded "none of them."