The shady zoo owner who’s wealthy husband mysteriously disappeared talked to Fox News on Wednesday, only a short time after Trump issued 73 pardons and 70 sentence commutations with Joe Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, being left on the sidelines.
“I’m taking a deep breath because I feel such a sense of relief,” Baskin said to Fox News. “From the very time that he was sentenced I have worried about there being a presidential pardon that could undo all of the hard work that went into bringing this person to justice. When today at noon a new president was sworn in, I felt like I was finally safe from that threat.”
Exotic was convicted in April 2019 and is serving a 22 year prison sentence for his role in supposedly hiring a hitman that took aim at Baskin. He was also given additional charges for killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs, and misrepresenting wildlife records, but the plucky gun-toting homosexual has maintained his innocence.
The tale of zoological intrigue was featured in a multipart documentary series on the streaming platform Netflix, called “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem & Madness,” which took the country by storm in March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic lockdown.
Baskin claims her major point of contention with Exotic is his supposed past abuse of “poor cubs and their mothers and all of the illegal trafficking” of animals, which in her opinion means that he belongs in a cage of his own.
“He absolutely belongs behind bars,” Baskin added.
Baskin went on to say that Exotic was lucky he didn’t get more than 22 years. She asserted he could have been given an 80 year sentence, but says the judge was attempting to be “as fair as he possibly could and not overreacting to the fact that [Exotic] was both trying to kill me and harming these animals.”
Private investigator Eric Love, who is a key member of the official Tiger King legal team, stated on Tuesday that he was sure the documentary star would be handed a pardon before Trump’s term was finished on Wednesday morning.
“We will be standing by waiting for President Trump’s confirmation of the Tiger King Joe Exotic,” Love said from his limousine waiting to spring Exotic from a Texas prison in the event he was pardoned and released, according to KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City.
With prospects of a Trump pardon for the unconventional former zoo owner no longer being a possibility, Baskin stressed there are “absolutely” ways Exotic could make his time in prison go faster. Rather than seeking a pardon, she recommended his focus could be utilized to follow in the model of Mario Tabreau, a convicted drug trafficker whose 100 year sentence was considerably cut back.
“[Tabreau] got his sentence reduced to 12 years by turning state’s evidence over. I think Joe could do the same thing. If he’s really had a change of heart — he says that after being in a cage he doesn’t think wild animals belong in cages — well, he knows all of the breeders and dealers and exploiters in this industry. He could provide state’s evidence and really reduce his sentence,” Baskin recommended. “I’d be fine with that!”
As of now, online prison records indicate that the 57-year-old Exotic is expected to be a free man once again in July 2037.
A spokesperson for Mr. Exotic has yet to comment on Baskin’s remarks or Trump’s unwillingness to pardon him on Wednesday.