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More than a year after leaving office, former President Donald Trump promised possible pardons for defendants in the Jan. 6, 2021 siege on the U.S. Capitol if he wins a second term.

“If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6th fairly,” he said during a rally on Saturday in Conroe, Texas. “We will treat them fairly, and if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.”

Trump could have pardoned them until his successor Joe Biden took office on Jan. 20, 2021. He told his supporters to “fight like hell” in a nearby speech before the siege. It got him impeached, the first president to be impeached twice and to be acquitted twice. He reportedly discussed a self-pardon regarding the criminal fallout from the case.

At least some supporters and allegedly also their loved ones held out hope he would grant pardons in the waning days of his presidency.

Supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol Building motivated by Trump’s incessant lies that Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election from him. They wanted to stop Congress from formally counting the Electoral College results. Prosecutions continue with many ending in guilty pleas.

Five people died amid the chaos of January 6. One Trump supporter, Ashli Babbitt, 35, was shot and killed by law enforcement as she and others were breaking their way into the Speaker’s Lobby. Two other Trump supporters–Kevin Greeson, 55; and Benjamin Phillips, 50–passed away from what D.C. Metro cops described as “medical emergencies. Greeson suffered a heart attack, and Phillips had an apparent stroke. A third, Rosanne Boyland, 34. reportedly died of amphetamine intoxication. The passing of Capitol police officer Brian D. Sicknick, who was allegedly attacked, was being investigated as a possible murder. The medical examiner said he died of natural causes from suffering strokes but suggested his being at the siege was a contributing factor. In addition, capitol police officer Howard Liebengood, and siege defendant Christopher Stanton Georgia, 53, died by suicide in the days after the siege.

NBC News editor Benjy Sarlin remarked grimly on the pardon promise.

“The message here is pretty clear to whoever is thinking about the next January 6,” he said and later referenced Trump’s tactic endorsement of the far-right group the Proud Boys, a group featuring some members that ended up as Jan. 6 defendants. “Stand back, stand by, await your pardon.”

[Screenshot via C-SPAN]

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