“Incandescently Stupid”: Trump’s Ally Faces Backlash Over Pardon Plan for January 6 Rioters


A key ally of former President Donald Trump has faced sharp criticism from legal experts over a proposed plan involving presidential pardons. The plan, which has been labeled as “incandescently stupid” by detractors, highlights the ongoing tensions surrounding Trump’s influence in the Republican Party and the legal complexities of presidential pardon powers.

The controversy centers on the suggestion by a prominent Trump supporter that, if Trump were to be re-elected in 2024, he could use his presidential pardon powers to absolve individuals convicted in relation to the January 6 Capitol riot. This plan has been met with severe backlash from legal scholars, political analysts, and even some within Trump’s own party.

Legal experts have uniformly condemned the proposal. The term “incandescently stupid” has been used to underscore the perceived recklessness and potential illegality of such an action. Critics argue that using the pardon power in this manner would undermine the rule of law and set a dangerous precedent.

According to Raw Story on Saturday, June 1, 2024, Neal Katyal, former Acting Solicitor General, remarked, “This isn’t just a bad idea; it’s a legally and morally bankrupt one. The presidential pardon power is broad, but it is not absolute. Abusing it to shield individuals who engaged in insurrection against the United States could itself be seen as an impeachable offense.”

Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, added, “The idea that a president could preemptively pardon individuals for acts of sedition is both ludicrous and dangerous. It would essentially place the president above the law, something the framers of the Constitution sought explicitly to avoid.”

Beyond the legal implications, the proposal has significant political ramifications. It underscores the continuing divide within the Republican Party between traditional conservatives and the more extreme factions loyal to Trump.

The idea of using the pardon power in such a politically charged manner is seen by many as a litmus test for loyalty to Trump, rather than a serious legal proposition.

Senator Mitt Romney, a frequent Trump critic, stated, “Such suggestions are not only irresponsible but show a profound misunderstanding of the principles that underpin our democracy. Pardoning those involved in the January 6 events would only serve to embolden those who threaten our institutions.”

Even within Trump’s camp, there are signs of unease. Some advisors fear that pushing this narrative could alienate moderate voters and further entrench the perception of Trump as a divisive figure rather than a unifying leader.

The presidential pardon power, granted under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, has a long and contentious history. While it provides the president with broad authority to grant reprieves and pardons for federal offenses, it has been subject to scrutiny and criticism, particularly when used in controversial circumstances.

Historical precedents include President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal, which was highly contentious but ultimately seen as a move to help the country heal. However, the idea of using pardons to protect those who attacked the Capitol poses a different ethical and legal challenge, given the nature of the crimes involved and the potential for future violence.

The proposal to use presidential pardons to absolve January 6 rioters has sparked intense debate and criticism. Legal experts have denounced it as “incandescently stupid,” highlighting the potential for abuse of power and the undermining of the rule of law. Politically, it threatens to deepen divisions within the Republican Party and among the American electorate.

As the nation approaches another election cycle, the discourse around this issue is likely to intensify. The resolution of this debate will not only impact the legacy of Donald Trump but also set important precedents for the exercise of presidential powers in the future.

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