Trump considered blanket pardon for Capitol insurrectionists – report

Donald Trump considered issuing a blanket pardon to participants in the January 6 insurrection before he left office, two former advisers have said.

The news, from Politico, landed after Trump told an audience on Texas on Saturday he would issue pardons to rioters if elected president again in 2024.

“If I run and if I win,” Trump said in Conroe, Texas, “we will treat those people from January 6 fairly. We will treat them fairly. And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.”

That prompted a storm of protest also fueled by Trump urging followers to protest against prosecutors in New York and Georgia investigating his business affairs and attempted election subversion.

Liz Cheney, a Republican on the House committee investigating January 6, said: “Trump uses language he knows caused the January 6 violence; suggests he’d pardon the January 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy; threatens prosecutors; and admits he was attempting to overturn the election.

“He’d do it all again if given the chance,” she warned.

Supporters urged on by Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop certification of Joe Biden’s win. More than 100 police officers were injured and seven people died.

More than 700 have been charged. The most serious charges, against 11 members of a far-right militia, allege seditious conspiracy.

On Wednesday, Politico cited two unnamed advisers as saying Trump asked if he had the power to issue a blanket pardon before leaving office.

“Do you think I should pardon them? Do you think it’s a good idea? Do you think I have the power to do it?” Trump reportedly asked one adviser.

The other said Trump asked if “everybody that had a Trump sign or everybody who walked into the Capitol” could be pardoned.

“He said, ‘Some people think I should pardon them.’ He thought if he could do it, these people would never have to testify or be deposed.”

Politico reported that the issue went nowhere, in a period in which Trump faced cabinet resignations, a second impeachment – in which he was acquitted – and even talk of removal via the 25th amendment.

One adviser told the website it was thought Pat Cipollone, Trump’s second White House counsel, would quit if Trump pushed too hard.

Neither Trump nor Cipollone commented. Politico said one adviser said Trump had been brainstorming more than genuinely considering a blanket pardon.

While in office, Trump was liberal with pardons to aides, including Steve Bannon, accused of fraud, and Michael Flynn, who admitted lying to the FBI. He reportedly considered issuing pre-emptive pardons to himself and family members.

Trump continues to toy with announcing a run for a second term. A third anonymous adviser told Politico Trump wanted to announce a 2024 run before leaving office on 20 January 2021, but was put off by campaign finance logistics.

“At the time, he wanted to not just be the leader of the party, but flat-out show the world that he’s running again and you’re not going to stop him,” the adviser was quoted as saying.

One adviser told Politico Trump started saying 2020 was rigged – a lie advanced by the former president and the Republican party – simply to keep his base energised.

“He wanted to carry the sense of grievance into the election cycle,” the adviser was quoted as saying. “He said, ‘I’m running again.’”