Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has promised that, if elected president, he would be “aggressive” in issuing pardons to Jan. 6 defendants, potentially including former President Donald Trump.
“On day one, I will have folks that will get together and look at all these cases, who people are, victims of weaponization or political targeting, and we will be aggressive at issuing pardons,” DeSantis said May 25 on “The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show.”
When pressed on whether those pardons might include his top rival for the Republican nomination, the governor added, “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.”
Trump is currently the target of four criminal investigations, including two federal probes.
One of those investigations relates to his handling of classified documents, and the second revolves around his actions following the 2020 presidential election and leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.
Both federal investigations are being conducted by special counsel Jack Smith, who Trump believes is politically biased against him.
“Unlike President Biden, his son Hunter, and the Biden family, President Trump is being treated unfairly,” Trump’s attorneys asserted in a May 23 letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland. “No President of the United States has ever, in the history of our country, been baselessly investigated in such an outrageous and unlawful fashion. We request a meeting at your earliest convenience to discuss the ongoing injustice that is being perpetrated by your Special Counsel and his prosecutors.”
In addition to the two federal cases, Trump is also at the center of a 2020 election interference investigation in Georgia and was recently indicted by a New York grand jury on falsification of business records charges.
Trump has maintained his innocence in all four cases.
DeSantis’ remarks, which came on the heels of his official campaign announcement on May 24, also happened to coincide with the sentencing of Oath Keepers founder and leader Stewart Rhodes, a Jan. 6 defendant who was convicted in November of seditious conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, and tampering with documents.
Prosecutors had accused Rhodes of plotting to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to President Joe Biden. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison—the longest sentence yet for a Jan. 6 defendant.
Following his conviction, Rhodes told The Epoch Times that he felt he was being persecuted for his political beliefs, noting that he never entered the Capitol building.
“And yet, here I sit, because of who I am, and because of what I said—my political speech—not because of anything constituting an actual crime, not because of anything I actually did.”
Others have echoed the same concern—that the Jan. 6 defendants are being persecuted and treated inhumanely in an effort to discourage political dissent.
During his May 25 interview, DeSantis said he would issue pardons on a case-by-case basis, depending on the facts of the situation.
“Some of these cases, some people may have a technical violation of the law,” he noted. “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, and then we will use the pardon power.”