Trump, two sources tell the publication, mused about whether he could issue broad legal immunity for people who engaged in a deadly storming of the Capitol in a bid to stop Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential-election victory from being certified.
The sources said that, like much of what Trump says, the pardon discussion was not aimed at making a plan so much as it was just general musing about whether it would be possible. His legal team reportedly explained to Trump that pardoning a large group of people before they’d been charged or tried was likely impossible.
But the idea of Jan. 6 pardons has lingered in the former president’s brain. At his rally last Saturday evening, Trump floated the idea of issuing pardons for insurrectionists if he were to run for president and win in 2024.
“If I run, and if I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly. And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons, because they are being treated so unfairly,” Trump told the crowd during his bizarre Houston-area rally appearance.
Trump has consistently billed himself as a law-and-order public official, calling for tough penalties for people who seek better lives in the United States without proper documentation. This approach apparently does not apply to people who fight through police lines to ransack the Capitol and threaten lawmakers’ lives.
The Jan. 6 attacks happened after Trump stoked lies about election fraud and called people to Washington for massive demonstrations. During his speech that day, Trump told the crowd, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
The day after the riot, Trump told the nation that he was outraged by the previous day’s events, a stance he has since contradicted many, many times. Trump’s not alone in his course reversal, however. In the immediate aftermath of the insurrection, Republicans condemned the attacks and vowed to purge their party of anti-democracy sentiment. Just shy of 13 months later, they’ve purged their party of many of the Jan. 6 attackers’ biggest critics.