Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he would consider pardoning former President Donald Trump, if necessary, along with Capitol riot defendants on his first day in office if he’s elected president in 2024.
DeSantis, 44, vowed to “aggressively” look at granting the embattled former president — along with other “victims” of “political targeting” — a legal reprieve if the 76-year-old is convicted of a federal crime.
“What I’m going to do is … on day one, I will have folks that will get together and look at all these cases [of] people who are victims of weaponization or political targeting, and we will be aggressive at issuing pardons,” he told the “Clay & Buck” radio show.
DeSantis, who formally declared his presidential candidacy Wednesday night, said he’d also look into pardoning defendants charged with “technical violations of the law” in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.
“If there are other people who did the same thing, but just in a context like [Black Lives Matter] protests and they don’t get prosecuted at all, that is uneven application of justice, and so we’re going to find ways where that did not happen,” he said. “And then we will use the pardon power — and I will do that at the front end.”
The Republican presidential hopeful added that the pardons would apply to “any example of disfavored treatment based on politics or weaponization” including “a whole bunch of cases that don’t necessarily get headlines … 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.”
2024 presidential GOP candidates
- Donald Trump as the 45th president after his unlikely win in the 2016 election. The billionaire businessman is currently facing 34 felony counts in Manhattan of falsifying business records, and is under federal investigation over the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot and keeping classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
- South Carolina Senator Tim Scott the upper chamber’s only black Republican, announced his 2024 candidacy at his alma mater, Charleston Southern University — entering the race with a record $22 million in cash on hand.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is seen as a strongest non-Trump contender to win the party’s nomination after a dominant re-election win in November. The Iraq War vet shot to national prominence with his unapologetic social conservatism and pugnacious style.
- American entrepreneur and politician Vivek Ramaswamy has made a fortune in biotech and is the founder and CEO of Roivant Sciences. As an author he is known for his criticism of so-called “woke culture” and “woke capitalism.”
- Nikki Haley is a former US Ambassador to the United Nations and was the first female governor of South Carolina, serving from 2011-2017. If elected, she would become America’s first female president and the first president of Indian descent.
“And that could be from a grandma who got arrested and prosecuted to all the way up to, potentially, Trump himself,” co-host Clay Travis followed up. “Is that fair to say when you analyze what the charges might have been brought on a federal level?”
“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,” DeSantis confirmed.
Trump faces a federal special counsel investigation centering both on his stashing of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and his role in potentially inciting the Capitol riot.
A pardon issued to Trump by a President DeSantis would wipe the slate clean in those cases.
The former president also is dealing with legal trouble in Georgia due to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election result in that state — and was charged last month by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg with 34 felony counts of business fraud in connection with hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal ahead of the 2016 election.
Neither the Georgia nor Manhattan case would be affected by a prospective DeSantis pardon.