Former President Donald Trump has received significant pushback over his suggestion at a weekend rally that he would pardon overcharged and mistreated Jan. 6 arrestees -- he considers them political prisoners, not offenders.
But despite the stir his remarks caused, Trump didn't shrink from them in an interview airing Tuesday night on Newsmax.
"These people are being treated horribly," Trump told "Rob Schmitt Tonight" in an exclusive interview. "I would absolutely – because some of them are being treated very unfairly – yeah, I would absolutely give them a pardon, if things don't work out fairly."
People should not doubt Trump's resolve on this issue, he told host Rob Schmitt. In particular, the former president was referring to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has been a strong Trump supporter but who also called pardons "inappropriate."
"Well, Lindsey Graham's wrong," Trump said, dropping the Republican in Name Only (RINO) moniker on Graham. RINO is a term Trump has often invoked in reference to GOP members who side with Democrats on volatile issues like election fraud and the politicization of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol siege.
"I mean, Lindsey's a nice guy, but he's a RINO. Lindsey's wrong.
"I would absolutely be prepared, and Lindsey Graham doesn't know what the hell he's talking about, if he says that, because you have to have equal justice," Trump added. "It's very, very unfair what's happened to this group of people."
The charges and sentences thus far are "out of proportion," Trump said, particularly when compared with the lack of charges for summer 2020 participants in riots, arson attacks and vandalism tied to the protests over the police killing of George Floyd.
"Out of proportion? Like 20 times out of proportion," Trump said of the Jan. 6 defendants. "These people are being persecuted."
Not only are the charges trumped up, but the conditions are "disgusting" in the jails, Trump insisted.
"These people are in jail, in a horrible, disgusting, dirty jail so bad that the court system – which is very left – is angry that people have to live like this," Trump said. "And some of these people are not guilty. Many of these people are not guilty.
"What they've done to these, in many cases, patriots – they're soldiers, they're policemen – what they've done to them compared to what they've done to the other side? You know, you have to have equal justice. And this isn't equal."
Trump excoriated Democrats, accusing them of taking a lenient view of criminal behavior during the Floyd protests.
"Look, they tried to burn down – we're talking federal buildings – they were terrible," Trump said. "Every Democrat city was on fire, and nobody says anything about it. Antifa and BLM were causing such problems, including death. They're not treating these people the same way."
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Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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