Republican elected officials sought to distance themselves from a pledge President Donald Trump made over the weekend to pardon those charged in the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol should he run for the White House again and win.
“I think it’s inappropriate,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally, said Sunday in an interview with CBS’ “Face The Nation.”
Asked if he believed that Trump’s pledge to offer pardons to rioters could be dangerous, Graham said he did.
“I don’t want to reinforce that defiling the Capitol was okay. I don’t want to do anything that would make this more likely in the future,” the senator said. “I hope they go to jail and get the book thrown at them because they deserve it.”
Speaking at a rally in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday night, Trump offered his support for those who stormed the Capitol and called on his followers to stage massive protests in should prosecutors act against him.
“If I run and if 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 has said he will probably wait to announce whether he will run for president again until after the November midterm elections. He has remained politically active and is still the dominant figure within the Republican Party, leading early 2024 GOP primary polls.
Over 140 police officers were injured during the Capitol riot as they battled Trump supporters — some of whom used police shields and batons to beat officers — in the halls of Congress. Four Capitol police officers who were at the Capitol that day committed suicide following the attack.
The House impeached Trump for inciting the attack. All but seven Senate Republicans chose not to convict him.
“I do not think that President Trump should have made that pledge. … We should let the judicial process proceed,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the seven who voted to convict him, said Sunday in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
Collins said it’s “very unlikely” that Trump would win her support should he run for the presidency again.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) also broke with Trump over his pledge to pardon rioters on Sunday.
“Of course not. Oh, my goodness, no,” Sununu said when asked if he agreed with the former president in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Look, the folks that were part of the riots and, frankly, the assault on the U.S. Capitol have to be held accountable,” Sununu added. “Everybody needs to be held fairly accountable … That’s part of leadership.”