The notorious “Tiger King,” Joe “Joe Exotic” Maldonado-Passage filed suit against the United States Department of Justice and, specifically, that department’s acting pardon attorney, over the Trump administration’s decision to reject his application for a full pardon.
Maldonado-Passage is currently serving a 22-year sentence for his role in a multi-state murder-for-hire plot against Florida animal rights activist Carole Baskin and, as The Daily Wire reported earlier this year, had hoped Donald Trump would issue him a pardon or commute his sentence before leaving office.
Maldonado-Passage insists that he was framed in the plot-for-hire by a business associate who wanted to take full control of the Joe Exotic wildlife park in Nebraska.
“The pardon, Joe’s legal team is, like, sending out the requests for it and all of this next week, I believe, or the week after,” Maldonado-Passage’s husband told Fox News in August “They’re driving a car all the way up to D.C. to deliver it in person.”
“We all know the situation, like, people that are actually in Joe’s life,” he continued. “We know that he was confronted with this ‘plot’ kind of thing to take out Carole.”
Maldonado-Passage rose to viral fame after Netflix aired a limited series about his life, his Nebraska wildlife park, and his long-running feud with Baskin, that culminated in the bizarre murder-for-hire plot as well as in a federal investigation into animal cruelty reportedly taking place at Maldonado-Passage’s “zoo” facility.
The Trump administration denied Maldonado-Passage’s pardon request less than a week after it was filed and Thursday, he fired back, naming the Justice Department and Acting Pardon Attorney Rosalind Sargent-Burns in a Federal complaint, according to the New York Post.
“Exotic — whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage — argues that the denial is not valid because the request was not presented directly to President Trump himself,” the Post notes, adding that “Exotic alleges that Sargent-Burns never forwarded a formal recommendation to the president — something the lawsuit alleges she was required to do as an adviser, due to the fact that Trump has the sole authority to issue pardons.”
The lawsuit even cites the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., as a public “Joe Exotic” fan.
“Many people have come out and publicly expressed their disagreement with Joe Exotic’s conviction and subsequent sentence,” the complaint claims. “Among those, are members of the President’s own family. Donald Trump Junior has been an advocate for Joe Exotic to be Pardoned.”
Donald Trump, Jr., jokingly opined on the case back in April, telling a SiriusXM radio host that, while he didn’t know what Maldonado-Passage was charged with, “it doesn’t seem like he was totally innocent of anything.”
He did add, “‘We’re putting this guy away for 30 years,’ I’m saying that seems sort of aggressive.”
President Donald Trump, asked about the pardon request shortly after it was filed, said only that he might “take a look” at Maldonado-Passage’s case.