Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday distanced himself from former President Donald Trump’s proposal of potential pardons for those charged in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
When asked about Mr. Trump’s suggestion, Mr. McConnell told reporters he would “not be in favor of shortening any sentences for any of the people who pleaded guilty to crimes.”
“What we saw here on January 6th was an effort to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another, which had never happened before in our country,” the Kentucky Republican said.
Mr. Trump said on Saturday during a campaign-style rally in Texas that he would consider pardoning individuals charged for participating in the riot if he runs for reelection and wins in 2024.
“If I run, and if I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly,” said Mr. Trump. “And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons. Because they are being treated so unfairly.”
The comments put Republicans on the spot as they made their rounds in the Sunday morning political show line-up.
Sen. Lindsay Graham, South Carolina Republican, said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” that he was against the idea and that pardons could send the signal “that it was okay to defile the Capitol.”
He also said the move would be similar to Democrats’ raising money to bail out rioters during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, which Mr. Graham spoke out against.
Mr. Trump has become increasingly outspoken about the Capitol riot and the House committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
Mr. Trump, like many Republicans, contends that the Democrat-led panel has weaponized the events of Jan. 6 and says that the committee serves as a political tool to target conservatives.
Democrats insist the sole aim of the probe is to uncover the truth about what led to the Capitol riot, to ensure a similar event never takes place again.
The committee has recently ramped pressure on key White House insiders, and members of the Trump family.
Last month, the committee subpoenaed phone records from Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancee, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and sent a formal letter to Ivanka Trump seeking her voluntary cooperation in the probe.
On Tuesday, Mr. Trump blasted the committee and said it should be investigating former Vice President Mike Pence for not rejecting the Electoral College results, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not ensuring the security of the Capitol.
“So pathetic to watch the Unselect Committee of political hacks, liars, and traitors work so feverishly to alter the Electoral College Act so that a Vice President cannot ensure the honest results of the election[…],” he said. “[T]he Unselect Committee should be investigating why Nancy Pelosi did such a poor job of overseeing security and why Mike Pence did not send back the votes for recertification or approval, in that it has now been shown that he clearly had the right to do so!”