“My view is I would not be in favor of shortening any of the sentences to any of the people who pled guilty to crimes,” McConnell told reporters during a Tuesday press conference on Capitol Hill. He didn’t weigh in further.
Former President Donald Trump over the weekend offered his support for those who stormed the Capitol, suggesting pardons for those involved if he returns to the White House in 2024.
“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.”
The GOP response to Trump’s comments has varied. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally, said they were “inappropriate” because they might increase the likelihood of further violence. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who voted to convict Trump over the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, said it should be left up to the judicial process.
“If you do the crime, you do the time. You shouldn’t be pardoned for that,” Cassidy said Monday.
“My view is I would not be in favor of shortening any of the sentences to any of the people who pled guilty to crimes.”
– Sen. Mitch McConnell
But other Republicans said Trump has every right to campaign on pardons for rioters who are currently facing prosecution.
“If he runs and gets elected … if he feels at that point there were people unjustly or wrongly detained, he has every right in the world to do that,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said.
After the Jan. 6 riot, McConnell delivered a scalding denunciation of Trump, calling him morally responsible for provoking the harrowing events of the day. But he later voted with many of his GOP colleagues not to convict the former president over the attack, during his second Senate impeachment trial last year.
Since then, McConnell has mostly dodged questions about Trump and his election lies, telling reporters the GOP should focus instead on the future.
Trump has said he won’t reveal his future plans 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.