Column: Lawlessness is Trump’s brand. So why wouldn’t President Trump 2.0 pardon insurrectionists?

Donald Trump speaks at a lectern labeled "Save America" and "President Donald J. Trump."
Former President Trump speaks at a rally on Saturday in Conroe, Texas.
(Jason Fochtman / Houston Chronicle via AP)

Former President Trump promised many outlandish things while courting voters.

He would revive the coal industry.

For the record:

6:05 p.m. Feb. 2, 2022An earlier version of this article said six Republican senators voted to impeach Trump last year. Seven Republican senators voted for impeachment.

He would build a wall on the border and make Mexico pay for it.

He would end birthright citizenship, deport all undocumented immigrants, eliminate the national debt, grow the economy 4% a year, and of course, release his tax returns.


He would never profit off the presidency.

He would not take vacations.

You had to be nuts to believe him.

But when Trump vowed Saturday to consider pardoning anyone convicted for a role in the violent Jan. 6 insurrection, even the dullest among us knows that, were he to become president again, he would not just consider it.

He would do it.

Donald Trump is a menace to the rule of law and to democracy itself.

Opinion Columnist

Robin Abcarian

At his rally in Texas, Trump didn’t just vow to pardon insurrectionists, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy. He also urged supporters to rise up against the prosecutors in New York who are investigating whether he committed financial fraud as head of the Trump Organization, and those in Georgia who are looking into whether Trump broke the law when he cajoled and threatened the secretary of state to “find” more votes.

“If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal,” said Trump, “I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protest we have ever had ... in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere because our country and our elections are corrupt.”


Who could possibly be surprised that the prosecutors in question — New York Atty. Gen. Leticia James, Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg Jr. and Fulton County, Ga., Dist. Atty. Fani Willis — all happen to be Black Americans. After Trump’s verbal assault, Willis asked the FBI to help provide protection for buildings and staff.

If we’ve learned nothing else about Trump, we’ve learned that inciting violence, particularly against people of color, is his stock in trade. And now, on top of that, the privileged white billionaire is playing the race card.

At what point does the Republican Party face the enormity of Trump’s dismal record, his stain on the office and disavow him?

CNN surveyed Republicans in Congress and found some who were willing to acknowledge his vow to pardon insurrectionists, but virtually none who would condemn it.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who was among seven Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump last year, said he should not have promised pardons. But, in her reliably wishy-washy way, she would not rule out supporting him if he becomes the party’s presidential nominee in 2024.

The House minority leader needs to tell Americans what he knew, when he knew it and exactly what then-President Trump told him on Jan. 6.

Jan. 16, 2022


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the parasite who attached himself to Trump after the death of Graham’s longtime host Sen. John McCain, offered weak criticism of his sometime golf partner. Talking about pardons, he told CNN on Sunday, is “so inappropriate.”

“I hope they go to jail and get the book thrown at ‘em,” said Graham. “ ‘Cause they deserve it.”

Monday, Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two renegade Republicans on the House Jan. 6 committee, summed up the issue nicely: “Trump uses language he knows caused the Jan. 6 violence; suggests he’d pardon the Jan. 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy; threatens prosecutors; and admits he was attempting to overturn the election,” she tweeted. “He’d do it all again if given the chance.”

Is there any doubt?

The last few weeks have brought a deluge of new and depressing information about Trump’s attempts to cheat his way into the White House for four more years. Some of it has come from the House Jan. 6 committee, some from investigative reporting and some from Trump himself.

On Sunday, Trump admitted he wanted Vice President Mike Pence to “overturn” the 2020 election results on Jan. 6, 2021. Pence, of course, was powerless to do that, but in case any power-mad incumbent ever tries that again, a bipartisan effort is afoot to make extra sure it can’t happen.

This, according to Trump, is proof his scheme was valid.

“Actually, what they are saying,” he wrote in the statement released Sunday, “is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!”


Actually, that is not what they are saying at all.

As soon as the smoke cleared, Trump sympathizers began to downplay or deny the unprecedented attack on democracy.

Jan. 5, 2022

They want to change the Electoral Count Act to explicitly prevent the vice president from throwing out certified electoral votes when Congress convenes to certify the results. Before Trump’s attempted coup, no one anticipated a president would stoop so low.

Just when you think things can’t get any darker, we learned this week that Trump was deeply involved in a never-realized scheme to seize voting machines to “prove” his fraud claims. The New York Times reported that he first tried to involve the military, then tried to assign the task to the Justice Department. When then-Atty. Gen. William Barr balked, Trump considered ordering the Department of Homeland Security to do the dirty work.

Anyone who believes the election was stolen, that President Biden did not win fair and square or that fraud occurred in battleground states — but nowhere else, and only at the top of the ticket — is a disingenuous partisan or a flat-out fool. Maybe both.