Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis said during an interview this week that he was willing to pardon former President Donald Trump if the facts of the case showed that he was the victim of political weaponization.
DeSantis made the remarks during an interview on “The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show” on Thursday, saying that he will assemble a team on day one of his administration that reviews cases that potentially should be pardoned.
The remarks come as the former president faces two federal criminal investigations, including an investigation into his handling of classified government materials and an investigation into his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“Do you think the January 6 defendants deserve to have their cases examined by a Republican president?” Travis asked. “And if Trump, let’s say, gets charged with federal offenses and you are the President of the United States, would you look at potentially pardoning Trump himself based on the evidence that might emerge of those charges?”
“The DOJ and FBI have been weaponized. We see that. We see it in a variety of contexts, some of which you mentioned,” he said. “Some of it is the FBI going after parents going to school board meeting. Some of it’s how they treat a pro-life demonstrator, how they don’t go after people that are attacking pro-lifers. And so what I’m going to do is — I’m going to do on day one — I will have folks that will get together and look at all these cases, who are people who are victims of weaponization or political targeting, and we will be aggressive at issuing pardons. Now, some of these cases, some people may have a technical violation of the law.”
DeSantis also said that he would look to issue the pardons during the early days of his administration, not toward the end as most administrations do.
“But if there are three other people who did the same thing, but just in a context like BLM 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. You know, a lot of people wait until the end of the administration to issue pardons. We’re going to find examples where government’s been weaponized against disfavored groups, and we will apply relief as appropriate. But it will be done on a case-by-case basis, because I think you’ve got to make sure that … there’s a whole bunch of cases that don’t necessarily get headlines. But 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.”
When asked if he would consider even pardoning Trump, DeSantis said, “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.”