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Trump suggests he might pardon Jan. 6 defendants if he returns to White House

More than 700 people have been charged with federal crimes in connection to the Capitol riot.
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WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump said Saturday he would consider pardoning defendants charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot if he returns to the White House.

"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," Trump said during a rally in Conroe, Texas. "And if it requires pardons we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly."

Egged on by the then-president, a mob of Trump's supporters broke through barricades and rioted in the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, forcing members of Congress to evacuate as they were certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

Five people died in events related to the attack.

More than 700 people have been charged with federal crimes in connection to the Capitol riot. The Department of Justice has said the investigation and prosecution of those involved in the attack will likely be one of the largest investigations in U.S. history "both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the volume of evidence." As of late December, at least 165 defendants had pleaded guilty, most to misdemeanor offenses punishable by a maximum of six months imprisonment.

Prosecutors have said some of the hundreds of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol were prepared for battle, wearing helmets and tactical gear. Several were seen on video or in photos carrying baseball bats and other weapons. The riot left the halls of Congress with broken windows, vandalized walls and ransacked offices.

Separately, the House established a select committee made up of Democrats and two Republicans last July to investigate the attack, which has been examining any action or inaction by Trump and his allies. The panel, chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has subpoenaed a growing list of Trump allies and former Trump officials.

"What that unselectcommittee is doing and what the people are doing that are running those prisons it’s a disgrace," Trump said Saturday. "We will treat them fairly and we will take care of the people of this country, all of the people of this country."

The former president, who was impeached by the House in the wake of the attack for "incitement of insurrection" but acquitted by the Senate, has been teasing another run for the White House.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a vocal critic of Trump and the vice chair of the Jan. 6 committee, said Monday that Trump would repeat his efforts to subvert the election if elected president again.

"Trump uses language he knows caused the Jan 6 violence; suggests he’d pardon the Jan 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy; threatens prosecutors; and admits he was attempting to overturn the election," she tweeted. "He’d do it all again if given the chance."

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, one of the seven GOP senators who joined Democrats in voting to convict Trump, said Sunday it is "unlikely" that she would support him if he ran in 2024.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on Jan. 29, 2022, in Conroe, Texas.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on Jan. 29, 2022, in Conroe, Texas.Brandon Bell / Getty Images

"Well, certainly it's not likely given the many other qualified candidates that we have that have expressed interest in running," Collins said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called Trump's suggestion of pardons for Jan. 6 defendants "inappropriate."

"No, I don't want to send any signal that it was okay to defile the Capitol," Graham said on CBS's "Face the Nation," adding that, "There are other groups with causes that may want to go down to the violent path that these people get pardoned."

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire also said he doesn't think Jan. 6 defendants should be pardoned. "Folks that were part of the riots and frankly the assault on the U.S. Capitol have to be held accountable. There is a rule of law," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."