Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Tiger King star Joe Exotic, is hoping to join the ranks of Paul Manafort and Roger Stone by landing himself a presidential pardon before Donald Trump leaves office next month. To that end, the self-described “gay, gun-toting redneck” and former Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate has dropped his lawsuit against the Department of Justice, telling a federal judge that he believes the president has personally received his pardon petition.
“In this action, Joe Exotic sought to require the acting United States Pardon Attorney to forward his Pardon Petition and a recommendation to the President, so that the President can exercise his plenary power to grant or deny clemency under the Constitution. Subsequent to the filing of this suit, Joe Exotic has developed a belief that the President has received both Joe Exotic’s Pardon Petition (which is the petition at issue in this case) and Joe Exotic’s subsequent Petition for Commutation (which was accepted by the Pardon Attorney),” Exotic’s attorney Francisco Hernandez wrote in a Notice of Dismissal filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
Exotic—who is currently serving a 22-year sentence—fled suit last week against the DOJ’s acting Pardon Attorney Rosalind Sargent-Burns, which sought to “compel the Office of the Pardon Attorney to comply with its ministerial duties to provide notice and a recommendation to the President, and thus to allow the President to exercise his plenary power under the Constitution.”
A federal jury in January convicted Exotic of two counts of murder-for-hire against rival Carole Baskin, eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records, and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.
Earlier this year, Exotic’s legal team sent a 257-page letter to the president claiming their client had been sexually assaulted during his incarceration and begging Trump to grant him a pardon.
“I have been sexually assaulted by jail staff, beat up and tied in a chair to the point the skin came off my arms,” Exotic wrote in the letter. “Please be my hero…My hands are damaged from the abuse in jail so I’m sorry for the soppy (sic) writing and spelling. Allow me to make you proud, to make America proud, to make the world proud. Be my hero please.”
Over the last two days and in recent weeks, Trump has given the gift of clemency to several of his political cronies, including those who refused to cooperate with investigations into the president—such as Manafort, Stone, and Michael Flynn. Trump even pardoned fellow grandfather Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
While Exotic isn’t in the position to prove his loyalty to Trump like his former advisors, he has noticed the president’s penchant for favoring patrons of his private businesses. That may be why Exotic had his supporters drop around $14,000 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. in May, according to 1100 Penn’s Zach Everson.
In April, Trump said he would “take a look” at the Exotic case when a reporter asked about it during a coronavirus task force briefing.
Read Exotic’s Notice of Dismissal below:
[image via Netflix screengrab]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]