Former President Donald Trump on Jan. 29 floated pardoning people facing charges linked to the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol.
Speaking at a rally in Texas, Trump said he may use pardons if he wins the 2024 presidential election.
“If I run, and I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly. We will treat them fairly,” Trump said. “And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons, because they are being treated so unfairly.”
Trump, who has hinted that he will run again but has said he won’t announce his intentions until after the 2022 midterm elections, also criticized the House of Representatives panel that’s investigating the breach and also the officials who are in charge of prisons where Jan. 6 defendants are being held, saying what they’re doing “is a disgrace.”
As of Jan. 6, more than 725 people have been charged with crimes related to the breach. Hundreds face charges or have pleaded guilty to violent crimes, but many others are facing lower-level charges, and prosecutors have acknowledged that a significant portion aren’t accused of carrying out violent acts.
U.S. Marshals conducting a surprise inspection last year of the D.C. Jail, which holds many of those detained on Jan. 6-linked charges, discovered problems with both prisons that comprise the lockup, and officials who oversee the jail were sanctioned by a federal judge over the mistreatment of a defendant.
Multiple defendants or their lawyers have alleged poor conditions, including inconsistent access to food and medical care, frequent placement in solitary confinement, and assaults by guards. Some members of Congress have decried the conditions, describing the defendants as political prisoners.
Still, a number of members from both parties reacted negatively to Trump’s comments, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
“The 1/6 Committee is examining how the insurrection took place and why. To ensure our democracy never again comes so close to the brink. Trump’s offer to pardon those responsible shows we’re still at risk. And suggests his only regret about Jan 6 is that it did not succeed,” Schiff wrote on Twitter.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on ABC’s “This Week”: “I do not think the president should have made … that pledge to do pardons. We should let the judicial process proceed.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation”: “I don’t want to send any signal that it was OK to defile the Capitol. There are other groups with causes that may want to go down to the violent path that these people get pardoned.”
Graham pointed out that while a senator, Vice President Kamala Harris called for people to donate to a fund that bailed out people accused of violent crimes during the 2020 riots and said he didn’t support that move either.
“So I don’t want to do anything from raising bail to pardoning people who take the law into their own hands, because it will make more violence more likely. I want to deter what people did on Jan. 6. And those who did it, I hope they go to jail and get the book thrown at them because they deserve it,” he said.
Others, though, expressed support for Trump’s potential pardons.
“Thank you, Mr. President,” Ali Alexander, who helped organize rallies on and leading up to Jan. 6, said on Telegram.
“Pardon and commute sentences! Due process!”