Administration

Psaki: Trump raising Jan. 6 pardons, overturning election a reminder he’s unfit

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said former President Trump’s comments over the weekend in which he floated pardons for Capitol rioters and complained that the 2020 election was not “overturned” were a reminder of how unfit Trump is for office.

“He defended the actions of his supporters, who stormed the Capitol and brutally attacked the law enforcement officers protecting it. I think it’s important to shout that out and call that out,” Psaki said at a press briefing when asked about Trump’s comments and potential reforms to the Electoral Count Act.

“He even attacked his own vice president for not, in his words, having overturned the election,” Psaki continued. “And it’s just a reminder of how unfit he is for office. And it’s telling that even some of his closest allies have rejected those remarks as inappropriate in the days since.”

Trump at a rally in Texas on Saturday said if he ran for reelection and won in 2024, he would treat those convicted of crimes connected to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots “fairly,” adding, “If it requires pardons, we will give them pardons, because they are being treated so unfairly.”

Hundreds of people have been arrested and sentenced in connection with the Capitol riots, when a pro-Trump mob violently overwhelmed law enforcement and stormed the complex in a bid to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

On Sunday night, amid talk in Congress of reforming the Electoral Count Act, Trump argued that former Vice President Mike Pence should have unilaterally “changed the outcome” of last November’s election, his clearest admission to date that he wanted the results completely thrown out so he could remain in power. 

“If the Vice President [Mike Pence] had ‘absolutely no right’ to change the presidential election results in the Senate, despite fraud and many other irregularities, how come the Democrats and RINO Republicans, like Wacky Susan Collins, are desperately trying to pass legislation that will not allow the vice president to change the results of the election?” Trump asked.

Trump’s remarks have drawn backlash from members of his own party. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) both called Trump’s promise of pardons inappropriate, and his comments on Sunday night drew condemnation from others.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), one of the two Republicans serving on the Jan. 6 committee, said Trump’s latest comment was “massively un-American” and called on GOP leaders to “pick a side” between Trump or the Constitution.

A group of bipartisan senators, which includes Susan Collins (R-Maine), has been meeting in recent weeks to discuss potential reforms to the Electoral Count Act, a decades old provision that lays out how the Electoral College results are counted.

Psaki on Monday reiterated that the White House is supportive of those talks, but made clear officials do not view it as an adequate substitute for broader voting rights laws that have failed to gain enough support in the Senate.

Tags Adam Kinzinger Chris Sununu Donald Trump Donald Trump Electoral Count Act Jan. 6 Capitol attack Jen Psaki Joe Biden Lindsey Graham Mike Pence Mike Pence Susan Collins

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