Joe Exotic, one of the stars of Netflix’s Tiger King, is reportedly appealing directly to President Donald Trump in an effort to get a pardon, in the form of a handwritten letter.
Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is currently serving a 22-year sentence for his role in the attempted murder plot of rival zoo owner Carole Baskin. According to TMZ, the documents also include a letter to Donald Trump Jr., in which he claims he’s been sexually and physically abused by prison staff, though a source told TMZ that “no such assault” took place. In the letter, he asks President Trump to “Allow me to make you proud, to make America proud,” and alleges federal prosecutors lied under oath during his trial.
In early April, as the newly quarantined binged Tiger King, a New York Post reporter asked Trump at one of his daily briefings if he’d pardon Maldonado-Passage. The question got backlash—we were in the early stages of a public health emergency—but Trump, likely pleased someone was asking about anything other than what his plan was for the country, said he’d “take a look.”
In the letter, Maldonado-Passage’s legal team also allegedly claimed his threats to murder Baskin, which are documented in Tiger King, were “simply another aspect of his showmanship” and just “jokes.” Maldonado-Passage also said he feared for his health; he was moved from an Oklahoma jail to a medical center in Fort Worth, Texas, in April, due to the spread of COVID-19.
Maldonado-Passage’s legal team is reportedly traveling to the White House this week to deliver the pardon letter in person, though it also reportedly traveled to D.C. in May seeking a pardon. In the meantime, a scripted Tiger King series is reportedly in the works, with Nicolas Cage set to play Joe Exotic, and Baskin is going to appear on Dancing With the Stars.
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