Romney: President Biden Should Have Pardoned Trump ‘Immediately’ on Federal Charges, Pressured Local Prosecutors

Romney: President Biden Should Have Pardoned Trump ‘Immediately’ on Federal Charges, Pressured Local Prosecutors
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington on April 26, 2022. (Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images)
Ryan Morgan
5/16/2024
Updated:
5/17/2024
0:00

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said he would have “immediately pardoned” former President Donald Trump if he were in President Joe Biden’s position when federal criminal charges first emerged.

“Had I been President Biden, when the Justice Department brought on indictments, I would have immediately pardoned him. I'd have pardoned President Trump,” Mr. Romney told MSNBC.
Mr. Romney has been a critic of President Trump. In 2016 he gave a speech urging Republicans to reject then-candidate Trump’s White House bid that election cycle. Mr. Romney was one of the few Republicans who joined Democrats in voting to convict President Trump in his 2020 impeachment trial and again in his 2021 impeachment trial.

Explaining his calls for President Biden to pardon President Trump, the outgoing senator from Utah said such a move would make President Biden look like “the big guy” and President Trump “the little guy.”

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, President Biden’s cabinet appointee, appointed Jack Smith in November 2022 to handle criminal investigations against President Trump, after the former Republican president announced his campaign to return to the White House in 2024.

Mr. Smith is pursuing criminal charges in a Florida federal court alleging President Trump illegally retained classified documents after his time in the White House. The special counsel is pursuing a separate set of criminal charges against the 45th president in a Washington D.C. federal court, alleging President Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election results constituted an illegal conspiracy to defraud the United States and violate voters’ rights, and to obstruct the official proceedings of Congress.

President Biden has the authority to pardon the charges Mr. Smith has brought against President Trump.

The former president faces two additional criminal indictments in state-level courts. The first case, brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, argues payments President Trump made to his lawyer Michael Cohen were for facilitating a 2016 non-disclosure agreement to stop adult performer Stephanie Clifford, also known by her stage name, Stormy Daniels, from alleging she and Mr. Trump had an affair, and therefore were paid to influence the 2016 presidential election. Because President Trump listed reimbursements for this nondisclosure agreement as legal expenses, Mr. Bragg’s office contends that he falsified business records with the intent to commit or conceal other crimes, namely flouting federal campaign finance rules.

President Trump faces state-level criminal prosecution in Georgia on similar arguments as Mr. Smith’s Washington D.C. federal case, that his efforts to challenge the 2020 election results were illegal.

While President Biden has no direct authority to pardon state-level criminal charges, Mr. Romney contends he still could have pressured local prosecutors to abandon their cases.

“I’ve been around for a while. If [President Lyndon B. Johnson] had been president and he didn’t want something like this to happen he‘d have been all over that prosecutor saying ’you better not bring that forward or I’m going to drive you out of office,'” Mr. Romney claimed.

‘We Ought to Get Beyond’ Cases and ‘Focus on The Big Issues’

Mr. Romney said he believes the public is already convinced of President Trump’s wrongdoing and that this should be reason enough to move on. He said the cases are not likely to have an impact on the 2024 election and the country doesn’t want to go through the process of prosecuting a former president.
“I think the American people have recognized that President Trump did have an inappropriate affair with someone who was a porn star,” he alleged. “I think they realized that. I think they realize he took classified documents he shouldn’t have and didn’t handle them properly. I think they understand that as well. I think they realize he’s been lying about the election in 2020. They know those things, so these things are not changing the public attitude and, frankly, we ought to get beyond these and focus on the big issues that really matter to the American people—inflation, our border, what’s happening around the world.”

Trump Links Criminal Cases to Biden

President Trump has maintained his innocence across the span of federal and state-level criminal charges he faces. President Trump has repeatedly described the various criminal cases as an “election interference” effort to derail his campaign
The former president has also taken to linking his 2020 and likely 2024 opponent, President Biden, to the cases. Throughout his ongoing trial in New York, President Trump has called the courtroom event “Crooked Joe Biden’s Sham Trial.”
On Tuesday, the Trump campaign team shared a Republican social media post accusing White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre of saying the “quiet part out loud” by declining to comment on House Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) decision to appear at the New York trial to support President Trump because it’s “related to 2024 elections.”

Though Mr. Romney told MSNBC that President Biden “should have fought like crazy” to prevent the New York trial from going forward, the Utah senator also criticized his fellow Republicans for challenging the legal basis for prosecuting President Trump.

Several Republican lawmakers and political figures, including some rumored to be on President Trump’s shortlist for running mate, have made appearances at the New York courtroom this week to express support for the prospective 2024 Republican presidential nominee and to criticize the case. Former 2024 Republican presidential candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Gov. Doug Burgum (R-N.D.) have made appearances outside the New York courtroom, as have Sens. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Cory Mills (R-Fla.).

Romney Says Republicans Criticizing NY Case Making ‘Enormous Mistake’

MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle asked Mr. Romney how he felt about members within the Republican Party who “went up to that trial, stood outside the courthouse, and attacked our legal system.”

“To see people attacking our legal system, that’s an enormous mistake,” Mr. Romney replied. “I think it’s also demeaning for people to quite apparently try and run for vice president by donning the red tie and standing outside the courthouse.”

NTD News reached out to the Trump campaign for comment on Mr. Romney’s MSNBC interview but the campaign did not respond by press time.

Mr. Romney is set to leave the U.S. Senate after serving a single term. President Trump has endorsed Trent Staggs, the mayor of Riverton, Utah, to fill the Senate seat. Mr. Staggs had initially declared his intention to challenge Mr. Romney for the seat before the sitting Utah senator announced his decision not to seek reelection.
“The only thing I’ve seen [Mr. Romney] fight for are the establishment, wokeness, open borders, impeaching President Trump, and putting us even deeper into debt,” Mr. Staggs said in a May 2023 campaign video announcing his Senate run.

Other Republicans vying to replace Mr. Romney in the June Utah Senate primary include Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), and businessman Jason Walton.

Ryan Morgan is a contributing news writer for NTD News.