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Joe Exotic Sues Justice Department After They Reject His Pardon Request, Claiming President Trump Didn’t Get To See It

The "Tiger King" star, who is serving time for trying to have rival Carole Baskin killed, argues that his pardon request needs to be presented directly to President Donald Trump.

By Gina Tron
Joe Exotic Sues DOJ Over Rejected Pardon Request

‘Tiger King” star Joe Exotic is suing the Department of Justice after his pardon request was denied, claiming that it didn’t make it directly into President Donald Trump’s hands.

A complaint filed Wednesday, obtained by Courthouse News, claims that pardon denial should be considered invalid because it’s Exotic’s right that the president sees it directly. It details how the former big cat breeder submitted a pardon application on Sept. 8, only to be rejected over email by the Office of the Pardon Attorney two days later. 

Exotic is currently serving a 22-year sentence in a Texas federal prison for hiring a hitman to kill big cat activist Carole Baskin, his foil for years. Their rivalry and Exotic’s downfall from eccentric zookeeper to criminal was at the heart of Netflix's "Tiger King" docuseries, which took America by storm earlier this year.

“In accordance with the Constitution, the Office of the Pardon Attorney does not have the authority to make the final decisions on any pardon application,” the complaint reads. “Indeed, the Office of the Pardon Attorney concedes that the President alone has plenary discretion to grant or deny clemency, with or without the advice and assistance of the Pardon Attorney or other members of the Department of Justice.”

It adds that on Sept. 29, Exotic’s counsel requested that they forward the pardon request to Trump, “to allow him to decide whether to follow the recommendation or to use his plenary power to issue a pardon.”

The complaint states that has yet to happen, adding “it does not appear that the application was even considered.” It notes that “many people have come out and publicly expressed their disagreement with Joe Exotic’s conviction and subsequent sentence” including the president's son Donald Trump Jr., who the complaint describes as “an advocate for Joe Exotic to be Pardoned.”

Donald Trump Jr., jokingly claimed during a SiriusXM’s “Jim Norton and Sam Roberts” radio show interview in April that he would lobby his dad to pardon Exotic. The president himself then mused during a White House coronavirus briefing that he'd "take a look” at the case.

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