Trump floats 'full pardons' for Jan. 6 rioters while Biden emphasizes 'rule of law'

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Hours before President Biden delivered a combative speech decrying former President Donald Trump and his "MAGA" followers, who he said "do not believe in the rule of law," Trump declared in an interview that he would look to pardon his supporters convicted for crimes committed during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol.

“I will tell you, I will look very, very favorably about full pardons. If I decide to run and if I win, I will be looking very, very strongly about pardons. Full pardons,” Trump said in a Thursday interview with conservative Pittsburgh broadcaster Wendy Bell, adding, “We'll be looking very, very seriously at full pardons because we can't let that happen. ... And I mean full pardons with an apology to many.”

At least 903 people have been charged with crimes stemming from the deadly riot at the Capitol building that sought to block Congress from certifying Biden's win over Trump in the 2020 presidential election, while nearly 250 have been sentenced.

During the interview Trump said he had been offering financial support to some of those charged for their role in the riot and that he had met with some of those charged, including former police officers and ex-members of the U.S. military.

“I met with and I’m financially supporting people that are incredible,” he said. “They were in my office two days ago. It’s very much on my mind.”

Donald Trump
Donald Trump at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., in July (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

On Thursday, Thomas Webster, a former New York City police officer and Marine veteran was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attacking a Capitol Police officer during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot with a flagpole and ripping a gas mask from the officer’s face. That marked the longest sentence to date among those who have been convicted.

During the interview, Trump, who experts believe could himself face indictment over his handling of classified materials at his Florida home, also falsely claimed that voter fraud had cost him victory in 2020.

“The election was a disgrace,” Trump said. “We won the election by a lot. You understand it. Everybody understands it, except people who don’t want to say it, especially Democrats. They cheated, and it was a horrible thing. We ran the election like a third world country.”

In his speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Thursday night, Biden cited the persistent and unsubstantiated view that the election had been decided by fraud as a further example of the threat Trump and his supporters pose to democracy.

“MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election,” Biden said. “And they’re working right now, as I speak, in state after state, to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself.”

Joe Biden
President Biden giving a speech in Philadelphia on Thursday. (Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

On Friday, Biden was asked by Fox News reporter Peter Doocy if he considered “all Trump supporters to be a threat to the country.”

“I don’t consider any Trump supporter a threat to the country,” Biden said. “I do think anyone who calls for the use of violence, fails to condemn violence when it is used, refuses to acknowledge when an election has been won, insists upon changing the way that ... you count votes, that is a threat to democracy, to democracy and everything we stand for.”