Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tossed out some comments after announcing his run for POTUS that could be seen as a backhanded smear of President Donald J. Trump, hinting recently that he would pardon Trump for federal charges stemming from January 6, if he was elected president.
He also said he promises to review all cases on behalf of those who are being ‘politically persecuted’ over events at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The announcement was met with fury by Never Trumpers.
The Lincoln Project immediately went into a massive meltdown about the idea and slammed DeSantis:
"We will be aggressive at issuing pardons."@GovRonDeSantis will allow the traitors who broke into the Capitol on January 6th and Trump, the coward who incited it all, to walk free.
You know it and we do too: Ron DeSantis is unfit to be president of the United States. pic.twitter.com/MjQ1CHpgwe
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) May 26, 2023
“On the first day since he formally announced his presidential campaign Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis indicated he might pardon former President Donald Trump or January 6 rioters – vowing to review convictions by a ‘weaponized’ Justice Department,” The Daily Mail reported, adding:
“He made the statement in a radio appearance on the Clay and Buck show hosted by Clay Travis and Buck Sexton – after being asked specifically whether he thought January 6 defendants ‘deserve to have their cases examined by a Republican president.’
He was also asked specifically about former President Trump – the main rival who has been ridiculing him since his glitch-filled announcement – ‘gets charged with federal offenses’ and whether he would ‘look at potentially pardoning Trump himself’ based on the evidence that might emerge.”
Liz Cheney also freaked out:
BREAKING: Republican Liz Cheney brings down the hammer on MAGA candidates Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, saying that anyone who wants to "pardon Jan. 6th defendants is not qualified to be President."
Donald Trump has promised to pardon a "large portion" of the treasonous… pic.twitter.com/jWnJfzBNdQ
— Occupy Democrats (@OccupyDemocrats) May 25, 2023
The outlet went on:
Rather than rule out any of the possibilities, DeSantis, who trails Trump by more than 30 points in a new Fox News poll, spoke about a ‘weaponized’ FBI.
Hours after former President Donald Trump mocked Ron DeSantis by saying ”My Red Button is bigger, better, stronger, and is working’ and yours ‘does not,’ the Florida governor said he would consider pardoning him and January 6 defendants on ‘Day One’
‘The DOJ and FBI have been weaponized. We see that. We see it in a variety of contexts, some of which you mentioned,’ he responded.
DeSantis, a lawyer who attended Harvard law and served in the Navy J.A.G. corps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, took the question on a day far-right Oath Keepers militant leader Stewart Rhodes got an 18-year prison sentence after being convicted of seditious conspiracy. The sentence came up during their conversation.
DeSantis said it was unfair how the government was selecting people to prosecute. He said he would begin his review on ‘Day One.’
Cheney was HOT about the comments:
Thank you Liz Cheney for calling out Ron DeSantis for vowing to pardon domestic terrorists. pic.twitter.com/TrsDMA102c
— Dash Dobrofsky (@DashDobrofsky) May 25, 2023
‘Some of it is the FBI going after parents, going to school board meeting. Some of it’s how they treat a pro-life demonstrator, how they don’t go after people that are attacking pro-lifers. And so what I’m going to do is — I’m going to do on Day One – I will have folks that will get together and look at all these cases, who are people who are victims of weaponization or political targeting, and we will be aggressive at issuing pardons. Now, some of these cases, some people may have a technical violation of the law.’
He complained of uneven application of justice and claimed people from Black Lives Matter ‘don’t get prosecuted at all.’
‘And so we’re going to find ways where that did not happen. And then we will use the pardon power — and I will do that at the front end. You know, a lot of people wait until the end of the administration to issue pardons. We’re going to find examples where government’s been weaponized against disfavored groups, and we will apply relief as appropriate. But it will be done on a case-by-case basis, because I think you’ve got to make sure that… There’s a whole bunch of cases that don’t necessarily get headlines. But if people are being treated just because they don’t get on TV or something, they’re being treated disfavorably. They need to have a fair hearing as well.’
Clay Travis confirmed that a Trump pardon specifically was on the table.
‘And that could be from a grandma who got arrested and prosecuted to all the way up to, potentially, Trump himself. Is that fair to say when you analyze what the charges might have been brought on a federal level?’ he said.
DeSantis responded: ‘I would say any example of disfavored treatment based on politics or weaponization would be included in that review, no matter how small or how big.’
Among those presidents who made use of the virtually unlimited pardon power late in their terms are Bill Clinton and Trump, who in the last weeks of his presidency, pardoned allies Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, former RNC finance chair Elliott Broidy. However, he resisted pressure to issue a blanket January 6 pardon in advance of charges, the Daily Mail reported.
The pardon is hypothetical because Trump has not been charged, although media reports indicate that he faces a potential indictment in special counsel Jack Smiths’ probe of January 6th and the removal of White House documents, including classified material to Mar-a-Lago, as well as a potential criminal indictment in Georgia related to his election overturn effort.
Each case is different, but Trump did not fare well in a recent New York case, where he was found liable for sexually abusing E. Jean Carroll decades ago, in a bizarre ruling that is likely to be overturned on appeal.
No federal charges have been filed, and Trump denies wrongdoing in what he calls a ‘witch hunt.’