On the first day since officially announcing his presidential campaign, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis indicated he could pardon former President Donald Trump or the Jan. 6 rioters – pledging to review convictions by an “armed” Ministry of Justice.
He made the statement during a radio appearance on the Clay and Buck show hosted by Clay Travis and Buck Sexton – after he was asked specifically if he thought the Jan. 6 defendants “deserved to have their case considered by a Republican president”.
He was also asked specifically about former President Trump – the main rival who has ridiculed him since his glitchy announcement – “is charged with federal offenses” and whether he “would consider potentially pardoning Trump himself” on the basis of evidence that may emerge.
Rather than rule out any of the possibilities, DeSantis, who trails Trump by more than 30 points in a new Fox News poll, spoke of an “armed” FBI.
Hours after former President Donald Trump mocked Ron DeSantis by saying ‘My red button is bigger, better, stronger and works’ and yours ‘doesn’t’, the Florida governor says that he would consider pardoning him and the defendants of January 6 on ‘Day One’
“The DOJ and the FBI have been armed. We see that. We see it in a variety of contexts, some of which you mentioned,” he replied.
He said he would review individuals “on a case-by-case basis”, but pledged to deal with people who have been “treated unfavourably”.
DeSantis took the pledge just hours after Trump called him ‘disloyal’, mocked his campaign launch as ‘DISASTER!’, called him ‘Rob’ instead of ‘Ron ‘, and taunted him saying, ‘My red button is bigger, better, stronger, and works (TRUTH!), yours doesn’t!’
DeSantis, a lawyer who studied at Harvard and served in the Navy JAG Corps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, answered the question on a day when far-right militant Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years in prison after being found guilty of seditious conspiracy. The phrase came up during their conversation.
DeSantis said it was unfair for the government to pick and choose who to prosecute. He said he would begin his review on “day one”.
Former President Donald Trump has called DeSantis “disloyal” and calls him “Ron DeSanctimonious.” Florida governor has indicated he may pardon Trump if he faces ‘political’ federal charges
“Part of it is the FBI chasing the parents, going to the school board meeting. Part of it is how they treat a pro-life protester, how they don’t go after people who attack pro-lifers. And so what I’m going to do – I’m going to do this on day one – I’ll have people come together and look at all of these cases, who are people who are victims of weaponization or political targeting, and we will be aggressive in giving sorry. Now, in some of these cases, some people may have a technical violation of the law.
He complained of an uneven application of justice and claimed that Black Lives Matter people “are not being prosecuted at all”.
“And so we’re going to find ways where that hasn’t happened. And then we’ll use the power of grace — and I’ll do that from the beginning. You know, a lot of people are waiting for the end of the administration to issue pardons. We will find examples where the government has been weaponized against disadvantaged groups, and we will apply relief where appropriate. But it’s going to be done on a case-by-case basis, because I think you have to make sure that… There are a whole bunch of cases that don’t necessarily make the headlines. But if people are treated just because they’re not on TV or something, they’re treated unfavorably. They must also receive a fair hearing.
Clay Travis confirmed that a pardon from Trump was specifically on the table.
“And it could be from a grandmother who was arrested and prosecuted all the way to, potentially, Trump himself. Is it fair to say when you analyze what charges could have been laid at the federal level? he said.
DeSantis replied, “I would say any instance of political or militarization-based disadvantage treatment would be included in this review, no matter how big or small.”
Presidents who have made use of the virtually unlimited power of pardons at the end of their terms include Bill Clinton and Trump, who in the last weeks of his presidency pardoned their allies Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, the former finance chairman of RNC Elliott Broidy, although he resisted pressure to issue a blanket pardon on January 6 before the charges.
Although hypothetical, the question of a Trump pardon could confront a future president.
He faces a potential indictment in Special Counsel Jack Smiths’ Jan. 6 investigation and the removal of White House documents, including classified documents, from Mar-a-Lago, as well as from a potential criminal indictment in Georgia related to his election cancellation effort.
Each case is different, but Trump did not fare well in a recent case in New York, where he was convicted of sexually abusing E. Jean Carroll decades ago.
No federal charges have been filed and Trump denies any wrongdoing in what he calls a “witch hunt.”