scorecardJanuary 6 committee member says Trump 'absolutely' tampered with witnesses by dangling pardons for riot defendants
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January 6 committee member says Trump 'absolutely' tampered with witnesses by dangling pardons for riot defendants

Grace Panetta   

January 6 committee member says Trump 'absolutely' tampered with witnesses by dangling pardons for riot defendants
PoliticsPolitics2 min read
Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., speaks to members of the media during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., looks on at right.    AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
  • A member of the Jan. 6 Committee said Trump "absolutely" tampered with witnesses by dangling pardons.
  • Trump floated pardoning Capitol riot defendants if he wins reelection in 2024.

A member of the House Select Committee investigating January 6 said former President Donald Trump "absolutely" sought to tamper with witnesses by dangling pardons for Capitol riot defendants in a Wednesday interview on CNN's "New Day."

"I think the question is more for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, is where are they? Do they support this? When is enough enough? When a mob is chanting 'hang Mike Pence', it wasn't enough. When former President Trump asked Brad Raffensperger to find him 11,000 votes, it wasn't enough. Now he's dangling pardons, if he gets back in office, for individuals," Rep. Pete Aguilar, a California Democrat, told CNN's Brianna Keilar.

"Will that be enough, or will there be more collective amnesia? I just don't know where the floor is these days on that side of the aisle," Aguilar added.

A spokesperson for Trump didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Since leaving office, the former president has said the 2020 election was "the real insurrection," that January 6 was a protest, and minimized the violence of the day.

Over the weekend, however, Trump kicked his rhetoric up with statements further bashing former Vice President Mike Pence, claiming the election should have been "overturned," and floating pardons for January 6 rioters if he runs again for president in 2024.

"If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly. We will treat them fairly. And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons. Because they are being treated so unfairly," Trump said of January 6 defendants at a Friday rally in Texas.

More than 750 defendants have been charged and 178 have pleaded guilty to federal crimes connected to the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol, according to an Insider tally. The majority of defendants who have entered guilty pleas have pleaded to parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, with a few also pleading guilty to more serious charges like conspiracy and obstructing an official proceeding.

The vast majority of Capitol riot defendants will not still be serving time in jail or prison by 2024. Still, as Politico reported last year, federal judges overseeing their cases have cited Trump's continued minimization of the violence of the day and sympathy for riot defendants in requiring defendants to stay in detention jail pre-trial.

A number of top Republican senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and on-and-off Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, rebuked Trump's suggestion of pardons for rioters, with Graham calling it "inappropriate."

Trump, for his part, doubled down and hit back at Graham in a Tuesday interview on Newsmax, calling the South Carolina Republican a "RINO," or Republican In Name Only.

In his CNN interview, Aguilar also echoed his fellow committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland in saying that Trump "said the quiet part out loud" in a statement calling for the committee to investigate Pence for refusing to illegally overturn the 2020 election.

A number of top Trump and Pence aides, including former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and former Pence chief of staff Marc Short, have already voluntarily cooperated and testified before the Select Committee. But others, including former chief of staff Mark Meadows, have defied the committee's subpoenas or pleaded the Fifth.