Trump’s Influence on GOP’s Pardon Push for Jan. 6



Republican congressional candidate Joe Kent believes that Donald Trump needs to win the 2024 election and pardon some involved in the January 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol. Kent claims there has been a “real deprivation of due process” in relation to the mass arrests following the event. This viewpoint is shared by a subset of Republican politicians who argue for pardons for those involved in the riot, while others, like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, suggest that Trump didn’t do enough to help those involved before leaving office.

Republican Congressional Candidate Advocates for Trump’s Return and Pardon of January 6 Rioters

A Republican congressional candidate in one of the country’s most competitive seats has emphasized that Donald Trump should win the presidency again and pardon some of those involved in the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Joe Kent, Republican U.S. congressional candidate for Washington, 3rd Congressional District

Joe Kent, 2022 Washington GOP candidate, had primaried Jaime Herrera Beutler, one of only 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Capitol attack. Although he managed to oust her, Kent narrowly lost the general election. He is running for the same seat this year, potentially influencing which party controls the House and testing how far a swing district might lean right.

During a recent campaign stop, CBS News obtained footage of Kent being asked about the Jan. 6 defendants “still rotting in jail and who didn’t get a speedy trial.” Kent responded, “We need to win in 2024 so that we can get President Trump in there to pardon them.” He also emphasized that anyone involved in violent acts should be held accountable and protested the mass arrests and deprivation of due process.

Kent is among Republicans who have embraced the idea of pardons for some individuals tied to the riot. However, Kent’s campaign has not responded to numerous requests for comment.

Five people died just before, during or soon after the attack, and scores of police officers were injured by the mob of Trump’s supporters riled by the Republican’s false claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

Trump remains the undisputed frontrunner in the 2024 GOP presidential primary race, despite the criminal charges tied to his attempts to remain in power after his election loss. Criticism from leading Republicans over Trump’s handling of Jan. 6 has essentially disappeared. Instead, a faction of the GOP has been portraying those involved in the riot as deserving of pardons.

Trump has defended himself and his supporters who played a role in the riot, stating that he is “inclined to pardon many of them” during a CNN town hall. He hinted that if he wins, pardons could occur early in his second term.

Similarly, Trent Leisy, a Trump supporter and Weld County, Colorado councilman running in a GOP House primary race, pledged to lead a bill in Congress “to financially compensate all January 6 patriots and their families.”

Leisy, a far-right candidate, stated in an interview, “I just want him to pardon all peaceful patriotic J sixers who have been unduly targeted by our justice system.”

More than 1,200 people have been charged with crimes related to the Jan. 6 attack, with alleged crimes ranging from illegal picketing inside the Capitol to assaults on officers and destruction of government property.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of Trump’s main presidential primary rivals, has been promoting the notion that Trump didn’t do enough to help those who stormed the Capitol. If Trump wins the presidency again, he would regain the extensive power to pardon people for federal crimes.

The way many Republicans are addressing the events of January 6 years later illustrates the “Trumpification of the Republican Party,” according to Bill Kristol, a director of the anti-Trump conservative group Defending Democracy Together.

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