Give Joe Exotic’s lawyers credit for doing their research well. The former “Tiger King” wants a presidential pardon to get out of a 22-year prison sentence for plotting the murder of his rival, and has been publicly campaigning all year to get Donald Trump’s attention. His attorneys went so far as to sue the Department of Justice two weeks ago for not passing their pardon application directly to the president.
Their latest plan seeks to bypass the red tape and appeal directly to Trump. And when I say appeal, I mean appeal in every sense, as TMZ reported yesterday:
The “Tiger King” star’s legal team will fly to Washington next Wednesday … we’re told for a “high level” meeting in connection with their pardon petition.
Eric Love, who leads the legal team, clearly knows how to stroke Trump’s ego. They chose January 6 for a reason … it’s the final straw, when the House votes to ratify Joe Biden as the next President, and when Trump’s planning a rally.
There’s a buzz in D.C. Trump may pardon a bunch of people Jan. 6 as a distraction, so the House vote doesn’t get the attention it would otherwise get.
That’s not the only buzzing that could take place in Washington on January 6. Trump and/or his supporters plan to rally in support of the push to get Congress to overturn the election. Love says they plan to support that effort — and to do a fly-by of sorts, it seems:
Lead lawyer Eric Love confirmed in a video shared with TMZ that the legal team will head to DC in a private jet dubbed “The Joe Exotic Express” or “Exotic One,” which the outlet says will be emblazoned with the inmate’s face.
The jet will “fly the nation’s airspace requesting President Trump to grant the pardon to an innocent man, Joe Exotic,” Love says in the video.
“President Trump knows that Team Tiger will be on the ground in Washington, DC to support him on this historic day,” he said of Trump’s rally.
That raises one question, though: does Trump even have Joe Exotic’s pardon request? His team filed the suit when the Office of Pardons rejected it without submitting it to the White House, a decision which they claim the DoJ lacks authority to make. However, they quietly withdrew the suit last week, claiming that “Joe Exotic has developed a belief that the President has received both Joe Exotic’s Pardon Petition … and Joe Exotic’s subsequent Petition for Commutation.” That’s not difficult at all to believe, considering the coverage Exotic has gotten for his pardon efforts.
And now, his attorneys are at least claiming to have a “high level meeting” on the same day that Trump would like to distract from the inevitable outcome in Congress. Whether that’s with Trump, some other White House official, or just some flunky remains to be seen. What’s clear, though, is Trump’s desire to push his Electoral College loss off of the top of the news cycle. That would have been a lot easier had Trump accepted those results on December 14th, of course; it’s Trump that’s making the Electoral College count such a big news story even while its outcome is never in doubt. Otherwise it would just be a footnote.
As it stands, Trump’s best bet to knock that story off of the top headline would be some spectacular development that would eclipse it. Having Saudi Arabia normalize relations with Israel might be the best strategy in all senses of the word best, but it’s not likely to happen while King Salman remains alive. The option most within Trump’s sole authority is clemency actions. But is Joe Exotic really the best recipient for a January 6 announcement? Exotic’s a celebrity, and his attorneys are doing their best to flatter Trump to the point of brown-nosing, but he’s still just a reality-TV nut that got convicted of plotting to murder a rival. That wouldn’t be a statement of any kind for Trump.
The better bet for a January 6 pardon — if any come at all — would be either Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, or both. Pardons for either are bad ideas for lots of reasons, but they would get legitimate headlines, and would also serve to stick Trump’s thumb in the eye of the intel communities that Trump blames for his political woes. A Joe Exotic pardon would get an hour’s worth of coverage; a Snowden and/or Assange pardon would get debated for weeks. That would at least compete with whatever happens in Congress on January 6. One does have to wonder, though, whether Trump’s planning one or both of those pardons for the morning of January 20 for the same purpose.