Republican Senators Push Back Against Trump Jan. 6 Pardon Promise


Republican senators are showing resistance to backing former President Donald Trump’s promise to the Jan. 6 protesters, insisting that pardons are for those who have proven to have rehabilitated themselves. 

Trump promised earlier this year that if he were reelected he would pardon defendants who are being charged with taking part in the Capitol Hill riots on Jan. 6, 2021, according to MSNBC.

According to some Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), pardoning protesters is a “bad idea.” The senator, who has been a longtime ally of the president, told The Hill, “Pardons are given to people who admit misconduct, rehabilitate themselves. They’re not supposed to be used for other purposes.”

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) also stood against the idea saying, “I don’t think potential candidates should hold pardons out as a promise. It’s somewhat problematic for me on a moral level and an ethical level — sort of like promising other giveaways to particular individuals. I prefer avoiding those kinds of things. 

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) weighed in, signaling his disagreement with the would-be pardons: “If he were elected, he would have a constitutional ability to do it. I would disagree with it. I think there was insurrection and I think these folks need to be punished.”

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The lawmaker went on to say, “I was there. This was truly violent. People were injured, people were killed. I have very little mercy for the individuals that were involved in that activity that day,” Rounds added. 

Another Republican, Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) stood against the idea as well, saying that those who committed crimes needed to face repercussions.

“The only people that get pardoned are people who are charged with crimes. If they were charged with crimes, they ought to be prosecuted like everybody else,” Thune said. “The rule of law applies. If people broke laws, they need to be held accountable.” 

Not all senators flatly disagreed, however. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have signaled some support. 

Hawley was more positive at the prospect saying, “Let’s see which ones he would choose to do,” referencing potential presidential pardons. “There’s no question it has been a massive prosecutorial effort.”

“I think that the folks who committed crimes, particularly violent crimes, on that day ought to be prosecuted,” Hawley said of the incarcerated Jan. 6 protesters according to The Hill. “I think the question becomes, are there people who’ve been caught up in this drag net [sic] who, for instance, didn’t know that they were trespassing?“ 

“There’s a lot of concern about, frankly, the double standard at [the Department of Justice] going after people who may have at most trespassed on federal property and not even known they did it versus folks who have in [Black Lives Matter] riots committed violent crimes and not been prosecuted,” Hawley added, harkening back to a lack of prosecution against those who destroyed property in the wake of George Floyd’s death. “There absolutely is undeniably a double standard.”

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