It turns out that Donald Trump didn’t merely encourage his unhinged supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021. He also considered issuing a blanket pardon for all those who participated in those riots meant to overturn legitimate election results.
Several Trump advisors have come forward detailing how in the weeks prior to the Inauguration of Joe Biden, Trump discussed the idea with his advisors and inquired if he had the power to issue such a uniform pardon and if he went through with it, if the participants would be able to avoid testifying or deposition. The advisors have requested anonymity so they can speak freely.
The newly revealed conversations regarding pardoning the January 6th rioters take on increased significance in light of comments Trump made at a recent Texas rally, claiming he would consider pardons for participants who are prosecuted due to their participation in the violent incident if he runs and is reelected president in 2024.
“If I run and I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly,” Trump said at the Houston rally. “If it requires pardons, we will give them pardons, because they are being treated so unfairly.”
Trump later doubled down on his comment from the rally during an interview with far-right outlet Newsmax, even attacking Lindsey Graham for taking a break from his usual sycophantic behavior towards Trump to say that the pardons would be “inappropriate”.
“I would absolutely give them a pardon if things don’t work out fairly,” Trump said. “Some of these people are not guilty. Many of these people are not guilty. What they’ve done to these — and in many cases, patriots. They’re soldiers, they’re policemen. What they’ve done to them compared to what they’ve done to the other side, you know you have to have equal justice, and this isn’t equal, so I would absolutely be prepared — and Lindsey Graham doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about if he says that.”
It’s quite disturbing yet unsurprising to see Trump so brazenly defend people who tried to stop our peaceful transition of power by smearing their feces all over the U.S. Capitol walls. The same people who chanted “hang Mike Pence” as Trump tweeted videos saying that, “he loved them very much”, and is reported to have enjoyed seeing the violent images on television from the White House as they unfolded in real-time.
If Trump runs again, and it seems every day more likely that he will, he will carry all his petty grievances and unhinged conspiracy theories through the election with him. As his attacks against his usual lackey Lindsey Graham show, he is willing to lash out against anyone who dares to oppose him or contradict him, no matter how softly or meekly. He is particularly sensitive regarding anyone who dares to push back on his conspiracy theories regarding electoral fraud in the 2020 election. Trump demands absolute loyalty from everyone in the Republican party and it appears most officials are willing to follow him down his unhinged rabbit hole
Every time we learn more about the events surrounding January 6th, it reveals what should have been apparent to everyone after four years of undemocratic and corrupt behavior by Trump. He is a wannabe authoritarian who will absolutely exploit any authority he has in order to protect his own power, including pardoning those who were willing, but failed, to exercise violence in order to destroy our democracy.
Thomas Kennedy is an elected Democratic National Committee member representing Florida. Twitter: @tomaskenn.
Original reporting by Tara Palmeri at POLITICO.
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is a former reported opinion columnist and roving correspondent. He's an elected member of the Democratic National Committee from Florida and a fomer Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.