Donald Trump has said he would pardon “a large portion” of the people convicted for their involvement in the deadly 6 January attack on the Capitol if he is elected President.
Speaking in a fiery town hall with CNN, the former US President refused to express regret for the riot which saw five people die after a mob of his supporters stormed the federal building in Washington, DC. The group’s aim was to prevent Congress from ratifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, which Trump has repeatedly claimed was “stolen” from him.
“I am inclined to pardon many of them. I can’t say for every single one because a couple of them probably they got out of control,” Trump said. More than 600 people involved in the 6 January 2021 insurrection have been convicted of federal offences, with the charges ranging from assault, to violence against police, to carrying a weapon, and obstruction of official proceedings. Trump added that he intends to hand out these pardons “very early on” in his hypothetical term.
Elsewhere in the wide-ranging interview, Trump also called columnist E Jean Carroll - against whom a jury recently found him liable for sexual abuse and defamation - a “wack job”. He repeated his false claims that he had never met her, and argued that the trial was “rigged”.
Later, the 76-year-old refused to say whether he wanted Ukraine to win the war against Russia, and made several proclamations about how the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him. Here’s everything you need to know about what was said in the interview.
E Jean Carroll is a ‘wack job’
Just a day after a New York jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation against columnist E Jean Carroll, Trump branded her a “wack job” and claimed her “story” was “fake” and “made-up”. He continued: “This woman... I don’t know her, I never met her, I have no idea who she is,” despite the fact that a photograph of him with Ms Carroll was presented to the court during the trial.
Trump also alleged the case was “rigged” and had been arranged in the name of “election interference”. He said it was presided over by a “horrible, Clinton-appointed judge”, who did not allow him to “put anything in”. Trump declined to provide written evidence for the trial when asked, and did not show up to court.
When asked if he believes the verdict will deter women from voting for him, Trump replied: “I don’t think so.” Earlier, he told the audience - which consisted largely of his supporters - that his polls had gone up in the wake of the trial’s findings.
Ms Carroll was on Tuesday (9 May) awarded £4 million after a jury dismissed her claim that Trump had raped her, but found him liable for defamation and sexual assault (‘battery’) - which Judge Lewis A Kaplan had explained as subjecting Ms Carroll to sexual contact without consent by use of force - and doing so for the purpose of sexual gratification.
2020 presidential election was ‘rigged’
Trump repeatedly refused to acknowledge that he lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, instead re-iterating his false claims that it had been “rigged”. He said: “Unless you are a very stupid person you see what happened. Most people understand what happened. It was a shame we had to go through it.”
When host Kaitlan Collins pointed out to Trump that Republican Party officials had debunked his claims and he and his supporters had lost 60 lawsuits over the notion of a “stolen” election, Trump argued she was “too afraid to take on the issue”. Later, he said he would only accept the results of the 2024 presidential election if he believed they were “honest”.
‘Every right’ to take classified documents
One of the most tense moments in the town hall was when Trump was asked why he took classified documents - which were later recovered by the FBI at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida - when he left the White House. He insisted that he had “every right” to do so - and claimed they had been “declassified” before he removed them.
This seems unlikely as not only is there no evidece to back up this assertion, but also, despite him facing a court case over the matter, Trump and his legal team have not submitted any filings which argue that the recovered files had been declassified.
Continuing the discussion, Trump later pointed out that President Biden was also under investigation for classified documents found at his house. When Ms Collins pointed out that the difference was that Biden didn’t ignore a subpoena, Trump interrupted her and things turned vicious.
“Are you ready? Can I talk? Do you mind?” Trump interrupted, to which Ms Collins responded: “Yes, I would like for you to answer the question. That’s why I asked it.” Then, to cheers from his supporters in the audience, Trump said: “It’s very simple that you’re a nasty person, I’ll tell you.”
Ms Collins joins the list of women who Trump has labelled as “nasty” after they challenge him. He branded Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” at the close of the final presidential debate in 2016, he’s used the insult on both Vice President Kamala Harris and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and once said of Meghan Markle, after she criticised him, “I didn’t know she was nasty.”
Ukraine war over in ‘one day’
Trump was also questioned about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He first claimed the war would never have happened if he had been President, and later said, if re-elected, he would end the conflict in one day.
“If I’m President, I will have that war settled in one day, 24 hours,” Trump said, adding that he would meet with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky. “They both have weaknesses and they both have strengths, and within 24 hours that war will be settled. It’ll be over, it’ll be absolutely over.”
He said that Putin had made a “mistake” by invading Ukraine, but would not say whether he believed he was a war criminal. Trump then declined to answer when asked which country he wanted to prevail in the conflict, explaining: “I don’t think of winning or losing, I think in terms of getting it settled. I want everybody to stop dying.”
‘Large portion’ of US Capitol rioters to be pardoned
Trump promised that, if he is elected, he would pardon a “large portion” of the people who stormed the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 in a bid to thwart the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
The riot resulted in the deaths of five people, and saw more than 2,000 people enter the federal building in Washington - smashing windows, ransacking offices, defecating in public spaces, and searching for members of Congress. There was also widespread violence, with many police officers and staff members assaulted.
Trump also tried to claim the insurrection was similar to left-leaning protests that turned violent in other cities - something which even Trump-appointed federal judges have countered.
When handling one rioter’s case, Judge Trevor McFadden wrote: “Although both Portland and January 6 rioters attacked federal buildings, the Portland defendants primarily attacked at night, meaning that they raged against a largely vacant courthouse. In contrast, the January 6 rioters attacked the Capitol in broad daylight and many entered it.”
He then blamed, among others, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the attack, saying he was one of the people responsible for the security failures on the day.
Access Hollywood tape comments were ‘honest’
Ms Collins also pointed out to Trump that in his deposition for the case that Ms Carroll had brought against him, he had stood by his infamous “grab them by the p****” comments which were revealed in a 2005 Access Hollywood tape.
He tried to argue that he was not talking about himself but rather celebrities in general, saying: “Now, they said, ‘will you take that back?’ I said, look, for a million years this is the way it’s been. I want to be honest this is the way it’s been,” he continued. “You would like me to take that back. I can’t take it back because it happens to be true.”
Overturning of Roe V Wade a ‘great victory’
When discussing policy points, Trump touted the Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe V Wade as “such a great victory”. The ruling has since paved the way for individual states to restrict, curtail, or outright ban women’s abortion rights.
However, Trump was vague about what he would do next - avoiding questions about whether he would sign a federal abortion ban into law, and refusing to comment on after how many weeks into a pregnancy an abortion should be made illegal. He did say however that he supports exemptions to abortion bans for cases of rape and incest, and when the life of the mother is threatened.