FACT CHECK: Did Donald Trump Pardon Joe Exotic?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

A tweet claims former President Donald Trump pardoned former Oklahoma zookeeper Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic.”

Verdict: False

Maldonado-Passage was not pardoned by Trump, according to the Department of Justice website and Trump’s final pardon list.

Fact Check:

Maldonado-Passage starred in the popular Netflix docuseries “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” that came out in March 2020. He was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison after being convicted for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot and for violating federal wildlife laws, according to CNN.

Ahead of Inauguration day, a rumor started spreading that Maldonado-Passage was one of the people who were recently pardoned by Trump. One tweet, which featured a photo of the “Tiger King” and a video clip of a limousine, claimed, “Joe Exotic’s team thanks Donald Trump for his pardoned signature & will be released from jail in Ft Worth, TX.” Similar claims have also circulated on Facebook.

Check Your Fact found no record of Maldonado-Passage being pardoned, despite him having filed a pardon application in September and his team renting a limousine. His clemency case status shows up as “pending” on the Department of Justice website, meaning a “clemency casefile has been created and the case is in one of various stages of review.”

On Wednesday morning, Trump pardoned over 70 people and commuted the sentences of 70 others, according to USA Today. Maldonado-Passage’s name is not among those in the list of clemency grants put out by the White House that morning. Eric Love, a member of Maldonado-Passage’s team, later released a statement about the “Tiger King” not receiving a pardon, according to the Washington Post.

“140 million Joe Exotic fans had a hard time getting out of bed this morning,” the statement read in part, the Washington Post reported. “We are disappointed that The President did not sign Joe’s Pardon, as we were confident yesterday that he would.” (RELATED: Did Trump Tweet That He Has ‘Decided To Pardon Joe Exotic’?)

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) website lists Maldonado-Passage as currently being housed at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. His release date is set for July 30, 2037, according to the FBOP website.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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