“We will treat them fairly, and if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.”
CONROE, Texas — Former President Donald Trump suggested Saturday night he will pardon the rioters charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol if he is elected president in 2024.
Trump, who has teased but not confirmed another run for president, has repeatedly criticized the prosecution of individuals who violently stormed the Capitol to protest the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president. But his comments at a Texas rally on Saturday marked the first time he dangled pardons, an escalation of his broader effort to downplay the deadly events of Jan. 6.
Some of those involved in the riot held out hope for a Trump pardon before he left office 14 days later, but none were granted.
“If I run and I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly,” he said near the end of a lengthy campaign rally in Conroe, a city about 40 miles north of Houston. “We will treat them fairly, and if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.”
Authorities have arrested and charged more than 700 people in connection with a sprawling investigation into the insurrection. Earlier this month, the Justice Department charged Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers group, and 10 other members or associates of the group with seditious conspiracy, the most serious charges levied as part of the department’s investigation.
Trump also bashed the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, as he continued to spread baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen from him.
“This hasn’t happened to all of the other atrocities that took place recently,” he said. “Nothing like this has happened. What that ‘unselect’ committee is doing and what the people are doing that are running those prisons, it’s a disgrace.”
Trump was impeached by the House for a second time after the Jan. 6 insurrection, and since leaving office, he and other Republicans have aggressively defended those who broke into the Capitol as patriots. On the first anniversary of the riots, Trump released a scathing statement attacking President Biden and the events marking the anniversary as “political theater.”
“The Democrats want to own this day of January 6th so they can stoke fears and divide America,” he said in a statement, “I say, let them have it because America sees through (their) lies and polarizations.”