DeSantis Leaves Open the Possibility That as President, He Would Pardon Trump

DeSantis Leaves Open the Possibility That as President, He Would Pardon Trump
Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to guests at the Republican Party of Iowa 2023 Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa on July 28, 2023. Thirteen Republican presidential candidates were scheduled to speak at the event. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis trails former President Donald Trump by wide margins in the 2024 Republican presidential primary polls.

Yet, Mr. DeSantis spreads a hopeful message, including the possibility that he will close the distance on Mr. Trump, pull even, and then ahead and secure the nomination. And the same narrative has it that Mr. DeSantis will beat Joe Biden, or whoever else the Democratic Party nominates, in the general election.

Mr. DeSantis then puts in play the notion that after moving into the White House—and in the event that Mr. Trump has been convicted on federal charges—he just might pardon Mr. Trump.

Whether or not a U.S. president would pardon Mr. Trump became more relevant on the evening of July 27, when the federal government further indicted the former president on three criminal charges in addition to the dozens he is already facing.

For his part, Mr. Trump remains defiant—a primary quality that endears him to his fiercely loyal base and following—saying that he will run for president even from prison if he has to.

DeSantis Talks Trump and Pardon

Mr. DeSantis discussed the possibility of issuing a presidential pardon during an in-studio appearance on the Megyn Kelly Show that aired on the afternoon of July 28.

Megyn Kelly mentioned to Mr. DeSantis that another indictment against Mr. Trump could be imminent and asked: “How worried should he be?”

“Well, here’s what I would say about this Department of Justice,” responded Mr. DeSantis. “You know, I’m pledged to end the weaponization of government.

“I think that they have weaponized these agencies in ways that really hurts the cause of freedom. And it’s not just about one person. It’s about do we have a rule of law or is it just about wielding power against people you don’t like.”

Following a further exchange between the two, Ms. Kelly asked: “So, given your views on the weaponization of government, would you commit to pardoning him [Mr. Trump] on any federal charges against him?”

“Well, what I’ve said is very simple. I’m gonna do what’s right for the country,” responded Mr. DeSantis. “I don’t think it would be good for the country to have an almost 80-year-old former president go to prison … ”

“So, that’s a yes?” interjected Ms. Kelly.

Mr. DeSantis continued: “Doesn’t seem like it would be a good thing. And I look at, like, you know, Ford pardoned Nixon. Took some heat for it. But at the end of the day, it’s like, do we want to move forward as a country, or do we want to be mired in these past controversies? And I think the public wants a fresh start.”

Later in the conversation, the governor said he not only seeks to end the weaponization of government against those in power but against ordinary citizens. He said his administration would “wield the pardon power if normal Americans have been targeted unfairly.”

NTD Photo
Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at the Republican Party of Iowa 2023 Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa on July 28, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

GOP Presidential Hopefuls are in Iowa

Mr. DeSantis talked about Mr. Trump and a possible pardon as the campaign entered a new phase and has begun to ramp up.

The day after his appearance on the Megyn Kelly Show, Mr. DeSantis was in Iowa, where he and Mr. Trump appeared for the first time at the same Iowa presidential campaign event, both addressing a major Republican dinner Friday night as they each face critical moments that could reshape the direction of the race.

Mr. Trump frequently avoids attending multicandidate events in person, questioning why he would share a stage with competitors who are badly trailing him in polls.

But Iowa leads off primary voting and, with its caucuses less than six months away, Mr. Trump and a dozen other GOP hopefuls are taking advantage of the chance to speak to about 1,200 GOP members and activists at the Lincoln Day Dinner.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.