Jan 30, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he may pardon charged Jan. 6 Capitol rioters if he wins in 2024

Tear gas clouding the U.S. Capitol as Trump supporters storm the building on Jan. 6, 2021.

Tear gas clouds the U.S. Capitol as Trump supporters storm the building on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former President Trump said Saturday that should he return to the White House in 2024, he may pardon people who have been charged and sentenced over their participation in the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, saying they "are being treated so unfairly.”

Why it matters: Many of the Jan. 6 defendants face misdemeanor charges that will likely be resolved before the next presidential election, while others have been charged with and sentenced for assaulting police officers, conspiracy and obstruction.

What they're saying: "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 Jan. 6 fairly. We will treat them fairly,” he said at a rally in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday.

  • “And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons. Because they are being treated so unfairly," he added.

Of note: Though Trump has yet to definitively say whether he'll again run for president in 2024, his speech strongly implied and it is widely assumed that he intends to enter the race.

The big picture: Trump's suggestion that pardons are needed for Jan. 6 defendants is an extension of the Republican campaign to rewrite the severity of the riot by claiming participants were simply tourists or by falsely claiming that it was organized by the FBI or Antifa members pretending to be Trump supporters.

  • As part of their defense strategies, some of the rioters said they participated because they were acting on directions from Fox News, online conspiracy theories and Trump himself.

Asked to respond to Trump's comments, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that, "the folks that were part of the riots and, frankly, the assault on the U.S. Capitol, have to be held accountable."

  • "Of course not. Oh, my goodness, no," he said when asked if the rioters should be pardoned.

Go deeper ... Exclusive poll: Americans fear a Jan. 6 repeat

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