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Ron DeSantis suggests he would pardon Trump on any federal charges

The 2024 contender said he believes it won't be good for the country "to have an almost 80-year-old former president go to prison.”
President Donald Trump is greeted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at Southwest Florida International Airport Oct. 16, 2020, in Fort Myers, Fla.
President Donald Trump is greeted by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Fort Myers in 2020.Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave his strongest suggestion yet, in an interview that aired on Friday, that he would consider pardoning former President Donald Trump if elected to the White House next year.

In the interview on The Megyn Kelly Show, DeSantis was asked by the host if he would commit to pardoning Trump on any federal charges.

"Well, what I've said is very simple. I'm going to do what's right for the country. I don't think it would be good for the country to have an almost 80-year-old former president go to prison," DeSantis said.

Pressed on whether that means he would pardon Trump, Desantis continued: "It doesn't seem like it would be a good thing. And I look at like, you know, Ford pardoned Nixon, took some heat for it, but at the end of the day, it's like, do we want to move forward as a country? Or do we want to be mired in these past controversies?"

In May, shortly after he officially entered the presidential race, DeSantis said he would consider pardoning people involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection, if elected, including Trump.

Four GOP contenders challenging Trump for the presidential nomination next year — Perry Johnson, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley and Larry Elder — have said they would pardon Trump if elected, or are leaning that way. Two candidates, Chris Christie and Will Hurd, said they wouldn't pardon Trump or are leaning that way.

Last week, DeSantis downplayed the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, telling comedian Russell Brand in an interview that the riot "was not an insurrection."

“These were people that were there to attend a rally, and then they were there to protest. Now, it devolved, and it devolved into a riot, but the idea that this was a plan to somehow overthrow the government of the United States is not true, and it’s something that the media had spun up just to try and basically get as much mileage out of it and use it for partisan and for political aims,” he said.

Trump was slapped with new charges in connection with his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House on Thursday. A federal indictment filed by special counsel Jack Smith accused the former president of being part of a scheme to delete security video.

A grand jury hearing evidence from Smith's office in the case involving the Jan. 6 attack and efforts to overturn the 2020 election is expected to soon vote on whether to charge Trump in that case.

The former president was also indicted in New York earlier this year in a document fraud case connected to hush money he allegedly paid to cover up affairs.