Rove: Trump Jan. 6 pardons pledge a ‘critical mistake’

Republican strategist Karl Rove urged Democrats to “go hard” at former President Trump’s rhetoric surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, calling the former president’s pledge to free imprisoned rioters a “critical mistake.”

“If they were smart, they’d take the Jan. 6 and go hard at it. And they would say, ‘He wants to pardon these people who attacked our Capitol,'” Rove said told MSNBC’s Ari Melber.

“One of the critical mistakes made in this campaign is that Donald Trump has now said, ‘I’m going to pardon those people because they’re hostages,'” Rove said in the interview, which aired Wednesday. “No, they’re not. They’re thugs.”

Trump said last month that his first act if elected to the White House would be to free the imprisoned Jan. 6 rioters, whom he called “hostages.” The former president has expressed sympathy for those charged in connection with the insurrection on numerous occasions and spoke last year at a fundraiser organized for Jan 6. defendants.

“Why Trump has done this is beyond me,” Rove said, criticizing Trump for appearing in videos with those who assaulted police during the riots.

More than 1,350 people have been charged with federal crimes in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, when swaths of rioters stormed the Capitol to stop Congress’s certification of the 2020 election results.

Rove — the ex-White House deputy chief of staff for former President George W. Bush — ripped into the rioters’ actions, telling Melber, “What those people did when they violently attacked the Capitol in order to stop a constitutionally mandated meeting of the Congress to accept the results of the Electoral College is a stain on our history.”

“And every one of those sons of bitches who did that, we ought to find them, try them and send them to jail,” he added.

The strategist explained that while he is Republican and doesn’t want a Democrat in the White House, he cannot condone the former president’s actions.

“We’re facing as a country, a decision … and you know, everybody gets to make it … as to what kind of leadership we’re going to have,” Rove said. “And to me, it is a mistake on the part of the Trump campaign to allow the president’s impulses to identify himself with the people who assaulted the Capitol rather than people who stand for law and order.”

Trump is currently facing federal and state criminal charges in Washington, D.C., and Georgia over his alleged efforts to overturn the election results after losing to President Biden in 2020.

The Hill reached out to Trump’s campaign for comment.

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