Lindsey Graham Stands Firm Against Donald Trump Over Jan. 6 Pardons

Lindsey Graham has repeated his stance that those who took part in the January 6, 2021 attack should not be "forgiven," after Donald Trump criticized him for opposing his promise to pardon the Capitol rioters if re-elected.

The South Carolina Republican was one of many who spoke out against comments Trump made at a rally in Texas, where he vowed to pardon those who attacked the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election results in favor of President Joe Biden.

Speaking to CBS's Face the Nation the day after the rally, Graham said Trump's remarks were "inappropriate" and pardoning those who took part in the insurrection could inspire similar violent attacks.

On Tuesday, Trump doubled down on his promise, telling Newsmax he would "absolutely" pardon January 6 defendants as "many of these people are not guilty" and are being held in "horrible, disgusting" jails while awaiting trial.

Trump also criticized Graham—one of his closest allies in the GOP—for voicing opposition to his pardon promise, calling him a "RINO" who "doesn't know what the hell he's talking about."

In response to the attack, Graham reiterated in a statement to Newsweek that he rejects "politically motivated violence in all forms" and those who take the law into their own hands for political reasons "whether they are Antifa, Black Lives Matter protesters, the Proud Boys, or others—must be held accountable."

Graham said: "I was in the Capitol on January 6 and know it was one of the darkest days in American history.

"I stand with the police officers who protect our streets, federal courthouses, and the United States Capitol against rioters. They deserve our respect and support and I will not second-guess the decisions they made under dire circumstances."

Graham said that in order for the country to "remain a nation of laws, not men" we must "speak with one voice" when it comes to politically motivated violence.

"All Americans are entitled to have a speedy trial and their day in court, but those who actively engage in violence for whatever political cause must be held accountable and not be forgiven," the senator said.

Graham was not the only leading GOP figure to voice concerns about Trump's pardon promise. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was "not in favor" of shortening the sentence of anyone who attacked the Capitol.

Barbara McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former U.S attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said Trump's comments were a way of "assuring insurrectionists" that they will be protected by him if he returns to the White House.

"In some ways, this is a solicitation of crime occurring right before our eyes," McQuade told Newsweek.

"By urging people to take to the streets, Trump is almost warning the Justice Department of the risks of charging him with a crime. He seems to be sending a warning shot that charges against him will provoke violence, perhaps hoping that the DOJ will calculate that filing charges it's just too dangerous."

lindsey graham trump pardon
Lindsey Graham has repeated his view that January 6 defendants should not be "forgiven" after he was criticized by Donald Trump for saying it was "inappropriate" to promise pardons for those who stormed the Capitol. Chip Somodevilla/ Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images