US President Donald Trump may pardon imprisoned Tiger King star Joe Exotic in the coming weeks, according to US media reports citing sources involved in the deliberations.
ABC News reported that the White House is currently vetting requests for presidential pardons, including one from “the Tiger King.”
Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonando-Passage, gained international attention earlier this year with the debut of the Netflix reality series ‘Tiger King.’
Maldonando-Passage, 57, is currently serving a 22-year prison term for allegedly killing five tigers and plotting to murder his rival and self-proclaimed animal rights activist Carole Baskin, which he denies.
The former zoo owner formally submitted a presidential pardon request to the US Department of Justice in September, which included a handwritten letter to President Trump, according to CBS News.
“We think we are very, very close,” attorney for Joseph Maldano-Passage Eric Love told ABC News on Wednesday regarding a presidential pardon.
Trump was asked in April during a White House press briefing about a potential pardon for Maldonando-Passage.
The president said at the time he knew “nothing” about Maldonando-Passage’s case.
President Trump asked about Tiger King during White House briefing pic.twitter.com/wDFyAquEWD— Ryan Rocca (@Reporter_Ryan) April 8, 2020
According to Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, the president called him that night to ask about the case and was “fascinated” by it.
“I think Melania may have shown him one of the memes that I had posted, which was Donald Trump’s face with a Tiger King mullet, which was pretty epic,” Trump Jr said during a Facebook Live in April.
Maldonando-Passage urged his fans in June to “please keep asking our dear president to make this right and pardon me,” in a handwritten note posted to his official Twitter account.
“I will continue to advocate for a fair and honest justice system for years to come,” he added.