Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz was caught on tape assuring conservative political consultant Roger Stone that the "big guy"—referring to former President Donald Trump—would pardon him after a guilty verdict.
Stone, once one of the leading conservative lobbyists and consultants in the country, fell from grace after he was arrested in 2019 as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling. He pleaded not guilty to charges he obstructed an official proceeding, made false statements and engaged in witness tampering.
That same year, a jury convicted him on all counts.
A judge handed down a 40-month prison sentence but that sentence was commuted by former President Trump just days before Stone was scheduled to report to prison. Trump later pardoned Stone altogether.
Gaetz can be heard telling Stone that "The boss still has a very favorable view of you," adding that he doesn't "think the big guy can let you go down for this.”
You can hear what Gaetz said in the video below.
The video quickly went viral and many suggested that the moment captured behavior more akin to that of mobsters than of members of Congress.
Gaetz has denied that he was speaking to Stone on Trump's behalf, according to The Washington Post. A spokesperson also claimed the tape was “illegally recorded" because under Florida law, both parties must be aware that a conversation is being recorded.
The recording, which had been captured by a crew for the documentary A Storm Foretold, was provided to Post reporters. The crew said Gaetz and Stone were aware of the presence of recording equipment.
Stone, who is currently under investigation for his role influencing the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in their participation in the January 2021 Capitol riot, has also repeatedly denied he collaborated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential campaign to discredit Hillary Clinton, then the Democratic nominee.