Former President Donald Trump did not pardon at the last minute his own lawyer, John Eastman, whose request to be placed on the “pardon list” shortly after the January 6 uprising was revealed by the committee of the Chamber charged with investigating the event.
But Trump — who is famous for his personal loyalty — on Friday held out the prospect of forgiving those who stormed and damaged the Capitol that day.
“If I ever become president, if I decide to do so, I will look into them very seriously for pardons,” Trump said in a nearly two-hour speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Nashville, Tennessee. .
“They were treated very unfairly,” Trump said of the insurgents, some of whom he described as simply “marching” through the Capitol on a day when House investigators are posing as an existential threat to America’s very democracy.
Trump did not announce a candidacy for the Oval Office in 2024, but enjoyed long applause when he asked the crowd, “Would anyone like me to run for president?”
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Eastman, who unsuccessfully pushed former Vice President Mike Pence to use his job as an envelope opener to thwart the 2020 election results, emailed fellow Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani asking to be placed on the “forgiveness list”. The disclosure does not mean that Eastman committed a crime, but indicates that he feared being charged with a crime.
The missive also suggests there was some sort of “pardon list” at the White House. Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming and co-chair of the Jan. 6 committee, said at the opening of the committee’s hearings that the panel had evidence from members of Congress, including Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican from Pennsylvania, had also asked sorry.
Perry denounced the disclosure as a “soulless lie” but did not testify under oath before the committee, although he was subpoenaed.
Trump spent much of the rest of his speech criticizing fellow Republicans as insufficiently loyal to him, accusing them of weakness and fear of retaliation for failing to help him void the election. Trump notably did not use the term “overthrow,” as the committee says he tried to do in a seven-part plan. Instead, he said he wanted GOP support for returning the decision on state presidential voters to GOP-controlled state legislatures in states that President Joe Biden narrowly won.
Witnesses before the committee, in testimony tendered this week, said an angry Trump called Pence a “wimp,” among other graphic and derogatory terms, for refusing to reject Biden voters when the voting ceremony took place. of the Electoral College was underway on Capitol Hill. Trump denied that, but he had other choice words for Pence and his fellow Republicans.
“I never called Mike Pence a wimp. I never called him a wimp,” Trump said, before adding, “Mike Pence was blessed to be awesome. … I say this sadly, because I like him, but Mike didn’t have the guts to act.”
“Mike Pence is afraid of everything he was afraid of,” Trump said. He added that he had been told that “Mike Pence had absolutely no choice but to be a human treadmill, even if the votes were fraudulent”. Numerous state and federal courts and officials, including many Republicans, have found the allegations of widespread voter fraud to be unfounded.
“I said, what is he – a robot?” Trump said to laughter from the crowd.
Pence, who has traveled the country and is considered a potential 2024 presidential nominee, emerged as an unlikely hero for Democrats in the hearings as evidence emerged showing the former vice president holding his ground as his own life was in danger that day. .
That includes Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr, who told the panel that Trump’s cheating ideas were “bull——” and resigned when his term ended. Trump said it was fear of impeachment that led Barr to refuse to help Trump discredit some state results.
Trump also had no kind words for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, who voted to certify Biden’s victory.
Calling McConnell “the broken old crone,” Trump said the veteran lawmaker – who has never lost an election – “practically begged me to endorse him” as McConnell faced a general election against the Democrat Amy McGrath.
“He wanted my endorsement. He was getting his ass kicked,” Trump said, adding that he now wishes he had endorsed another lead candidate against McConnell.
McConnell, in the 2020 race, beat McGrath by nearly 20 percentage points.