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Joe Exotic Formally Requests A Pardon From President Trump With Handwritten Letter

During his tenure in the Oval Office, President Trump has made headlines for some of the pardons and clemency he has issued. One case, brought to the president's attention by Kim Kardashian, led to Trump commuting the sentence of Alice Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for a nonviolent role in a drug trafficking operation.

In more controversial cases, the president has stepped in to pardon convicted war criminal Clint Lorance, a first lieutenant whose own men turned him in and testified against him at his court martial, and conservative personalities Scooter Libby, Dinesh D'Souza, Joe Arpaio, and Conrad Black.

Now another headline-maker is trying his luck with President Trump, from one reality TV star to another.

Wikimedia Commons | State of Florida

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic, has written to President Trump to formally request a pardon, CBS News reported.

Maldonado-Passage became a household name as Joe Exotic after Netflix released the documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, which chronicled his feud with rival big cat sanctuary owner Carole Baskin. Tiger King's popularity led to rampant speculation over the fate of Baskin's husband as well as providing ample fodder for internet memes.

The former zookeeper is currently serving a 22-year sentence in prison.

Last year, before the Netflix documentary came out, Maldonado-Passage was convicted on two counts of murder-for-hire for trying to kill Baskin, and 17 counts of animal abuse, including the killing of five tigers, selling tiger cubs, and falsifying wildlife records.

Baskin was unharmed in the plot.

In his plea for clemency, Maldonado-Passage's legal team presented the White House with a 257-page case.

Among the documents was a letter handwritten by Maldonado-Passage addressing the president directly. In it, Maldonado-Passage compared his own political ambitions, which included a brief presidential run as a libertarian in 2016 and a failed 2018 gubernatorial campaign in Oklahoma, to Trump's.

"If I have ever looked up to anyone it would be you," Maldonado-Passage wrote, "not because I need you to save my life but because you stand for what you believe no matter what anyone thinks, that is why I took my beliefs into the political arena."

Maldonado-Passage also maintains his innocence and called Trump his "hero."

"I have seen what they do to you," Maldonado-Passage wrote, adding that he believed that the prosecutors in his trial had encouraged witnesses to lie under oath.

Maldonado-Passage's lawyers also pointed to his physical health as a reason to provide clemency.

"Joseph is scheduled to be released from (Bureau of Prisons) custody in 2037; however, with his comprised health, he will likely die in prison," they wrote in the application, ABC News reported. "He humbly requests a pardon to correct the injustices he has experienced and to have the opportunity to return to providing meaningful contributions to his community."

So far, neither the White House nor the Department of Justice have commented on Maldonado-Passage's pardon application.

It's unclear whether the president will issue a pardon in this case, which would require him to also waive the typical five-year limit.

However, CBS News reports that Donald Trump Jr. has brought Maldonado-Passage's case up with the president before and that the president has said he'll "look into" the matter.

h/t: CBS News, ABC News