You know the news by now: Over the weekend, former President Trump told a crowd of supporters that if he runs/wins in 2024 he will pardon insurrectionists charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. It’s egregious enough on its own, but a report surfaced yesterday revealing that Trump’s been talking about this for a while: in the waning days of his presidency, just after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol trying to do a coup, Trump was obsessing over the idea of potentially offering a blanket pardon to his supporters who attacked the Capitol.
In the days between the attack and President Biden’s inauguration, Trump made no less than three phone calls to an adviser to raise the idea of pardons, according to a Politico report. He also reportedly was curious about what kind of charges his supporters might face for carrying out the deadly attempted-coup.
And on Tuesday, he doubled down, telling Newsmax that he would “absolutely” pardon folks he thinks were treated unfairly, I guess with the caveat that this would only happen if he somehow finds himself in the White House again in 2024 or beyond.
It’s music to the Jan. 6 committee’s ears. As the House select committee continues its probe into the Capitol attack — in part, specifically focused on the role Trump played in inciting the insurrection — committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said Wednesday that the former president’s latest remarks are “very important evidence” for the panel’s work.
“I think his recent statements, as well as the public reports of prior inquiries about pardoning people involved in attacking the Capitol police that day, they go to a couple of things,” Schiff, a favorite Trump punching bag, told MSNBC last night.
“They go to his intent. … If this violence against the Capitol wasn’t part of the plan, or wasn’t something he condoned, then why would he consider pardoning them?” Schiff said. “So, I think it’s very important evidence as to his intent. But it also is I think part of that broader pattern … to influence potentially what witnesses have to say, or whether they will say it.”
It’s an interesting point. If Trump, as he claims, didn’t play a role in inciting the attack, why would he care about the fate of those who seemingly carried out his wishes? There’s one clear answer: he’s trying to mend any ill-feelings that might be festering toward him among his supporters who think he didn’t fight hard enough to stay in the White House after they sacrificed themselves to his Big Lie cause.
But Schiff’s remarks also speak to the work of the committee and other entities investigating the effort to overturn the election results. The Jan. 6 committee has been clear for some time that it would be taking a holistic approach to probing the insurrection, not only looking at Trump’s potential role but also the behind-the-scenes jockeying between his White House and members of Congress involved in in efforts to delay the certification of the Electoral College results.
While the DOJ has mostly focused its efforts on charging those who breached the Capitol that day, there have been some pretty substantial signs in recent weeks that Attorney General Merrick Garland is expanding the scope of the Justice Department’s probe. Last month, Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes was arrested on federal sedition charges, signaling federal prosecutors are interested in pinning down a leader behind the attack.
And toward the end of the month, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told CNN that the DOJ is looking into the fake Electoral College certificates that were introduced by Trump allies when the 2020 election didn’t go his way. Both DOJ developments are significant in the sense that the feds are interested in filing charges against folks beyond those who were at the scene of the crime that day, like, say Trump and his friends.
And Schiff isn’t the first on the committee to take notice. Jan. 6 committee member Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) said this week that Trump’s latest remarks are “absolutely” a sign of witness tampering on Trump’s part.
The Best Of TPM Today
Here’s what you should read this evening:
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
Why Trump Pantsing Graham Once Again Matters for 2022 — Josh Marshall