Senate Republicans are expressing opposition to former President Donald Trump’s promise to grant pardons to the rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, The Hill reported.
Trump recently said in a radio interview he would issue full pardons and a government apology to rioters who stormed the US Capitol.
“I mean full pardons with an apology to many,” he told conservative radio host Wendy Bell earlier this month. Such a move would be contingent on Trump running and winning the 2024 presidential election.
In January, Trump made similar comments regarding pardoning some of those charged for their part in the riots on the US Capitol last year if he were to run in the 2024 presidential election and win.
"If I run, and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6th fairly. We will treat them fairly. And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly," Trump said at a rally he held in Texas.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of Trump’s closest allies, told The Hill that granting pardons to Jan. 6 protesters is “a bad idea.”
“Pardons are given to people who admit misconduct, rehabilitate themselves. They’re not supposed to be used for other purposes,” he said.
Other Republican senators joined Graham in criticizing Trump’s promise to pardon the Jan. 6 protesters as inappropriate.
“I don’t think potential candidates should hold pardons out as a promise,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), who is usually a reliable Trump ally. “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-SD) said he wouldn’t support granting pardons to people convicted of crimes because of their actions on Jan. 6.
“If he were elected, he would have a constitutional ability to do it,” he said of Trump’s promise of pardons. “I would disagree with it. I think there was insurrection and I think these folks need to be punished.
“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.
Senate Republican Whip John Thune (SD) said people who committed crimes on Jan. 6 must face the consequences of their actions.
“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,” he said. “The rule of law applies. If people broke laws, they need to be held accountable.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), one of Trump’s fiercest critics who voted last year to impeach Trump on the charge of inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6, said pardoning people who invaded the Capitol to stop Biden’s election would be wrong.
“The Jan. 6 riot was an attack on the temple of democracy, and the people who violated the law, attacked our law enforcement and besmirched our nation’s Capitol should be prosecuted according to the law, and certainly should not be pardoned,” he said, according to The Hill. “It’s a grossly inappropriate comment to make.”