Kristi Noem backs pardoning US Capitol attackers to avoid ‘another January 6’

<span>Kristi Noem speaks during an event held by national conservative political movement Turning Point USA in Detroit, Michigan, on this month.</span><span>Photograph: Rebecca Cook/Reuters</span>
Kristi Noem speaks during an event held by national conservative political movement Turning Point USA in Detroit, Michigan, on this month.Photograph: Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Kristi Noem, once a contender to be the Republicans’ vice-presidential nominee, has argued that people facing charges over the 6 January 2021 attack on the US Capitol should be individually evaluated for pardons – so as to minimize the chances of a repeat.

“Each of those situations needs to be looked at separately,” Noem said on Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. “What I have been very clear about is that we don’t want to see another January 6 again.

“Nobody in this country wants to see another day like that again.”

The South Dakota governor also offered Donald Trump her support on his promise to grant presidential pardons to those charged or convicted in the Capitol attack that was mounted by his supporters after his defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

The former Republican president has said he is considering pardons for approximately 1,186 defendants if he wins a second term in November’s expected rematch with his Democratic rival Biden. He has said one of his first actions in office would be to free jailed or imprisoned January 6 participants, whom he has described as “hostages”.

Noem said pardons should be “based on his prerogative and his decision when he looks at those cases”.

“Each of those individuals needs to be looked at separately, as far as what their role was and what was happening in that situation,” Noem said.

Some political pundits were unimpressed with the argument laid out by the winner of the 1990 South Dakota Snow Queen Festival pageant, including Public Notice’s Aaron Rupar, who wrote on X: “completely incoherent stuff from Kristi Noem on Meet the Press”.

Noem has seen her favorability polling fall since she included a passage in her book No Going Back describing her decision to fatally shoot a hunting dog that she insisted did not hunt and was a danger to her family.

The unpopularity of that admission virtually ruled her out as Trump’s vice-presidential pick, who he has claimed will likely be in attendance for his televised debate with Biden in Atlanta on Thursday.

Trump has cited a likelihood of revealing his running mate for November’s election at the debate, despite the fact that CNN – the network hosting the event – has agreed with both campaigns that there will be no studio audience.

Noem said she had not received any paperwork from the Trump campaign that could indicate she is in contention for the job. But she said she had “conversations with the president, and I know that he is the only one who will be making the decisions on who will be his vice-president”, a role Mike Pence held when Trump was in the Oval Office from 2017 to early 2021.

Asked if it would be a mistake to not pick a woman, Noem added: “He needs to pick the best person for the job. He needs to pick someone that will help him win.”

Noem also maintained that Trump would make an effective president despite his conviction in the criminal prosecution involving hush money paid to the adult film actor Stormy Daniels – and despite the fact that he has pending criminal charges related to his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election won by Biden.

“I believe that Donald Trump, when he comes back to the White House and is in charge of this country, we’re going to have incredible opportunities to show that people in this country will be safer, that we’ll have law and order back in our streets,” Noem said.

A slew of statistics have pointed to a significant decline in violent crime over the past year of Biden’s administration.