During a rally on Saturday in Conroe, Texas, former President Donald Trump suggested that should he run for president in 2024 and win, he would pardon hundreds of his loyalists who face charges related to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building.
“So many people have been asking me about it,” Trump said on Saturday. “If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly. We will treat them fairly.”
“If it requires pardons, we will give them pardons. Because they are being treated so unfairly,” Trump continued.
Trump condemned the January 6 commission and a number of state-level investigations into his actions, including in New York, where state Attorney General Letitia James is looking into allegations that Trump’s company misrepresented the value of its assets, and in Georgia, where Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating whether Trump illegally pressured state officials to overturn the 2020 election results.
Trump encouraged his followers to engage in massive nationwide protests if investigations into his company and his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election continued.
“If these radical, vicious racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protest we have ever had…in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere,” Trump said on Saturday.
Lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle blasted Trump for suggesting that he would pardon those who took part in the Capitol attack.
In a CNN appearance on Sunday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) likened Trump’s words to a “threat,” and said that he was acting like a “two-bit dictator.”
To think that someone would run for a high office and say, ‘You can conduct any kind of criminal conduct you want. Don’t worry, if you’re doing it to support me, I’ll give you a pardon when I get there.’ As a [former] prosecutor, I’d say: ‘This has to be somebody’s making this up. It couldn’t be real.’
Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) also took issue with the former president’s comments over the weekend, expressing concern that Trump was encouraging his loyalists to engage in additional acts of violence.
“There are other groups with causes that may want to go down the violent path if these people get pardoned,” Graham said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program.
Several of the people who have been charged for their involvement in the Capitol attack have justified their behavior by citing the speech Trump gave at the White House on January 6, 2021.
During the speech that directly preceded the breach of the U.S. Capitol building, Trump told his supporters that if they didn’t “fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He also instructed his loyalists to go directly to the Capitol building to interrupt Congress’s certification of the legitimate election results, telling them that they would “never take back our country with weakness.”
Trump has since claimed that his words on January 6 were “extremely calming” and that he didn’t do anything wrong that day.