Senate GOP leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has now joined those among prominent Republicans who have spoken out against the recent statement by former President Donald Trump that he’d be in favor of giving presidential pardons to Capitol rioters if he wins the White House again. Trump has consistently made no distinction between those with some role in the events of January 6 when offering his broad defenses of what went on that day, suggesting that he’s fine with hundreds of assaults on police officers, threats to the lives of top government officials, evidence-backed charges of seditious conspiracy, and more — all in service of his corrupt attempt to overturn the duly documented will of the people after the last election.
Rep Raskin on Trump's 1/30 memo: "Look no further for the Trump smoking gun: he admits his purpose – to overturn the election. His job was to uphold the Constitution, take care that laws would be faithfully executed. He trashed the Constitution and tried to execute the Republic."
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) January 31, 2022
Other Republican Senators who’ve expressed opposition to Trump’s presentation of pardons as a possibility for the Capitol rioters include Susan Collins (Maine) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.). As for McConnell, he commented to reporters as follows this week:
‘The election of 2020 was decided December the 14th of 2020, when the Electoral College certified the winner of the election. What we saw here on January the 6th was an effort to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another, which had never happened before in our country. 165 people have pleaded guilty to criminal behavior… I would not be in favor of shortening any of the sentences for any of the people who pleaded guilty to crimes.’
It’s remarkable that Republicans have dragged the metaphorical bar low enough that expressing firm opposition to the attack on the Capitol has become a rare thing among elected Republican leaders. Check out McConnell’s remarks below:
REPORTER: How concerned are you about the former president offering pardons to people who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6…?
MCCONNELL: …I would not be in favor of shortening any of the sentences for any of the people who pleaded guilty to crimes. pic.twitter.com/QBhajP50LV
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) February 1, 2022
At a Texas rally last weekend, Trump made his offer of presidential pardons, telling the crowd that “another thing we’ll do — and so many people have been asking me about it — if I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly. We will treat them fairly… And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons. Because they are being treated so unfairly.” Graham said the day after these remarks that he doesn’t “want to send any signal that it was okay to defile the Capitol”… although Graham’s own continued support of Trump, even though the former president’s defense of the rioters, could be perceived to essentially be sending exactly such a signal. Collins, meanwhile, added that she does “not think… that [ex-]President Trump should have made that pledge to do pardons.” Biden administration press secretary Jen Psaki observed that the whole thing served as “just a reminder of how unfit [Trump] is for office,” adding: “It’s telling that even some of his closest allies have rejected those remarks as inappropriate in the days since.”
NEW: Trump directed Giuliani to make the call to Cuccinelli asking about DHS seizing the voting machines, a more direct level of involvement than Trump has been known to have had previously in discussion of using the government in the election https://t.co/q8rUzL8nWH
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 1, 2022