GOP Sen. Mitt Romney says Biden should have pardoned Trump

May 15, 2024
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Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, argued that President Joe Biden should have pardoned Donald Trump after the Justice Department brought indictments against the former president and pressured New York prosecutors not to pursue Trump’s ongoing hush money trial.

In an exclusive interview on MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle,” Romney expressed his dismay in response to Republican lawmakers, including the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s vice presidential prospects, rallying to Trump’s defense outside of the Manhattan courthouse where Trump’s hush money trial is taking place.

“How does that make you feel about Republicans?” Ruhle asked Romney.

Romney, a vocal critic of Trump, said, “I think it’s a terrible fault, for our country to see people attacking our legal system — that’s an enormous mistake,” he said. “I think it’s also demeaning for people to quite, apparently, try and run for vice president by donning the red tie and standing outside the courthouse and it’s just — I felt awkward.”

The Utah Republican argued that Biden should have pardoned Trump when the Justice Department announced charges against him and that the president “made an enormous error” by not pressuring New York prosecutors to drop their case against Trump. (Presidents can only pardon in federal cases.)

“He should have fought like crazy to keep this prosecution from going forward,” Romney said, referring to Biden. “It was a win-win for Donald Trump.”

Pressed by Ruhle whether that is Biden’s job to pardon Trump, Romney said he believes that Biden should have taken a cue from former President Lyndon B. Johnson, saying that the president could have stepped in and urged New York prosecutors to drop the case.

“I’ve been around for a while, if LBJ had been president, and he didn’t want something like this to happen, he’d have been all over that prosecutor saying, ‘You better not bring that forward or I’m gonna drive you out of office,’” he said.

Ruhle then noted that Romney supports having separate but equal branches of government.

“I do. … I mean, you may disagree with this, but had I been President Biden, when the Justice Department brought on indictments, I would have immediately pardoned him … President Trump. Why? Well, because it makes me, President Biden, the big guy and the person I pardoned a little guy.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and several of Trump’s potential vice presidential picks issued public remarks in front of the Manhattan courthouse where Trump is required to attend court proceedings in the hush money trial against him, expressing their support and loyalty for him as the trial limits his time on the campaign trail. The potential VP picks, which include Ohio Sen. JD Vance and former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, have echoed, without evidence, Trump’s accusations of the trial being a Democrat-led effort to interfere with his campaign.

Biden and Trump on Wednesday agreed to participate in general election debates in June and September, at least the first of which will not have a live audience. Asked whether debates matter today and if he thinks it would influence votes, Romney, who unsuccessfully ran for president against Barack Obama in 2012, said people have “low expectations” for Biden but “much higher expectations” about Trump.

“The image that comes to mind is those two old guys on the Muppets, you know, that sat in the back that — Statler and Waldorf — that comes to mind, but I actually think there’ll be a huge audience for these debates,” he said. “I think people have very low expectations as to what President Biden will do. I think they have much higher expectations about President Trump and his competitiveness.”

Romney added that he has had “good exchanges” with Biden and that Trump “seems energetic and forceful” during his rallies, but he’s unsure about what to expect when they go head-to-head in debates.

“You got a cheering crowd and you got teleprompters you could read, so how will they do in person?” Romney said, referring to presidential campaign rallies. “I don’t know the answer to that, but I think America will be watching.”





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