Supporters of former US President Donald Trump gather in front of the Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
Probable Rashid | LightRocket | Getty Images
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that granting pardons to people believed to be victims of “political targeting” will be a “day one” priority as president, hinting that former Donald Trump may be part of that group.
DeSantis, Trump’s biggest rival in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, was asked on a conservative talk show whether he would consider pardoning the former president if he were charged with federal crimes. The Justice Department is conducting several criminal investigations involving Trump.
The governor was also asked if he believes the next Republican president should look into pardoning defendants charged in connection with the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
“On day one, I’m going to have people come together and look at all these cases where people are victims of gun violence or political targeting, and we’re going to be aggressive in granting clemency,” DeSantis said in his response.
Interviewer Clay Travis noted that the stance could apply “from a grandmother who has been over-arrested and prosecuted to potentially Trump himself.”
DeSantis responded, “I would say that every example of adverse treatment based on politics or weaponry would be included in this review, no matter how small or how large.”
Department of Justice he said this month, more than 1,033 defendants were arrested as part of the investigation into the Capitol riots.
The governor’s remarks on “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” came as part of a 12-stop media blitz during his first full day as an official Republican. presidential candidate. The governor filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday and then confirmed his candidacy in a live Twitter discussion with Elon Musk that was plagued technical difficulties.
Trump is the clear frontrunner in most Republican primary polls, with DeSantis his closest competitor. But Trump faces legal exposure that could dent his lead as the primary heats up.
Trump was indicted by Manhattan prosecutors last month on dozens of counts of falsifying business records related to secret payments sent to women shortly before the 2016 election. Trump is also at the center of an investigation into possible meddling in the 2020 Georgia election.
The New York criminal case is set for trial beginning March 25, 2024 during the primary election period. DeSantis could not pardon Trump for a potential conviction in that case.
At the federal level, where criminal charges fall under the president’s clemency authority, Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith is investigating the events of January 6, 2021, and the transfer of classified documents to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort after he left. presidency.
In an interview Thursday, DeSantis also accused the Justice Department and the FBI of being “weaponized” in a number of other ways, including “going after parents” at school board meetings. Attorney General Merrick Garland did defended Department of Justice against these accusations of Republicans.
DeSantis said he planned to use the pardon power “on the front end” instead of waiting until the end of his White House tenure.
“We will find examples where the government has been up in arms against disadvantaged groups and apply relief as needed. But it will be done on a case-by-case basis,” he said.