Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has stated that if elected president, he will make it a priority to issue pardons to individuals who have been victims of political targeting. He implied that former President Donald Trump could be part of that group. DeSantis, who is Trump’s top rival in the 2024 Republican presidential primary race, was questioned on a conservative talk show regarding whether he would consider pardoning the former president if charged with federal crimes. The Department of Justice is currently conducting several criminal investigations involving Trump.
DeSantis was also questioned about whether he believes the next Republican president should consider pardoning defendants charged in connection with the January 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol. He responded by stating that on day one of his presidency, he would have individuals look at the cases of people who are victims of political targeting and weaponization. He further stated that he would be aggressive in issuing pardons. He noted that any example of disfavored treatment based on politics or weaponization would be included in that review, regardless of size.
DeSantis Begins Presidential Campaign
DeSantis made these statements during a 12-stop media blitz on his first full day as an official Republican presidential candidate. He filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday, confirming his candidacy in a live Twitter discussion with Elon Musk, which was plagued with technical difficulties.
Trump Is Clear Front Runner in Republican Primary
Trump is currently the clear front runner in most polls of the Republican primary, with DeSantis being his closest competitor. However, Trump faces legal exposure that could erode his lead as the primary heats up. He was charged last month by Manhattan prosecutors with dozens of counts of falsifying business records relating to hush money payments sent to women shortly before the 2016 election. He is also at the center of an investigation into potential interference in Georgia’s 2020 election. The New York criminal case is set for trial starting March 25, 2024, in the midst of the primary election season. DeSantis could not pardon Trump for a potential conviction in that case.
DeSantis Accuses DOJ and FBI of Being “Weaponized”
DeSantis also accused the DOJ and FBI of being “weaponized” in multiple ways, including “going after parents” attending school board meetings. Attorney General Merrick Garland has defended the DOJ against these accusations from Republicans. DeSantis stated that he plans to utilize the pardon power “at the front end” instead of waiting until the end of his term in the White House. He noted that they would find examples where the government has been weaponized against disfavored groups and apply relief as appropriate on a case-by-case basis.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has stated that if elected president, he would prioritize issuing pardons to individuals who have been victims of political targeting. He implied that former President Trump could be part of that group. DeSantis went further to accuse the DOJ and FBI of being “weaponized” in multiple ways. Trump is currently the clear front runner in most polls of the Republican primary, with DeSantis being his closest competitor. However, Trump faces legal exposure that could erode his lead as the primary heats up.
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