There is a multitude of reasons why President Donald Trump is at the center of heightened controversy following his “Save America” rally that, subsequently, contributed to his supporters storming the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
While many legal experts have expressed concern about Trump pardoning himself, one ex-prosecutor has expressed concern about another possibility: how the president could grant pardons to his supporters who are facing criminal charges for their involvement in the U.S. Capitol siege.
According to NBC4-Washington, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia has brought charges against more than 50 people but former Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner is not sure how that will play out.
“With Donald Trump, one never knows,” Kirschner said.
Kirschner went on to explain the distinct difference in Trump’s pardon powers in Washington, D.C., compared to other state and local jurisdictions across the country. In D.C., the president’s pardon power actually extends to cases on the state and local level which means he could grant pardons to the so-called “patriots” who stormed the Capitol. Another issue centers on the government structure of D.C. The publication notes that since “the District [of Columbia] is not a state, there is no elected district attorney to answer to local voters.”
Given all that Trump and his allies have done over the last two months to damage America’s democratic system, Kirschner is putting nothing past the embattled president. “It doesn’t get any more democracy-damaging than not being able to hold those folks accountable,” Kirschner said.
He went on to express concern about the next several days. While First Amendment cases are typically more challenging for prosecutors, the difference with this instance is that the incident occurred inside a federal building. According to Kirschner, “Disorderly conduct in a federal building, it makes it much easier.”
However, one of the main concerns centers on the overwhelming number of people who managed to leave the premises without being arrested. “I have no doubt that more people will get away with the crimes they committed than will be held accountable for the crimes they committed,” said Kirschner.
Although there are many different charges rioters could face including “rioting, destruction of property, disorderly conduct and unlawful entry into a federal building” Kirschner is concerned about whether or not anyone will face consequences given Trump’s history of pardoning his supporters.
“If he pardons people who directly attacked our democratic process, committing crimes while they were doing it,” Kirschner explained, adding, “How much more egregious, unjust, unfair, inappropriate does a presidential pardon get?”
The publication did contact the White House for comment but no response has been provided, as of yet.
Trump pardoning Capitol rioters would be “egregious, unjust, unfair, inappropriate”: Ex-prosecutor The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Salon.