Ramaswamy Says Trump Showed ‘Bad Judgment’ in Jan. 6 Case, Not Criminal Behavior

Ramaswamy Says Trump Showed ‘Bad Judgment’ in Jan. 6 Case, Not Criminal Behavior
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition in Clive, Iowa, on April 22, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Republican 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy offered a mixed defense of former President Donald Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, saying Mr. Trump’s “bad judgment” that day should not be treated as a crime.

Last week, Mr. Trump indicated he could be facing criminal charges in connection to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Mr. Ramaswamy was asked for his perspective on the potential criminal case against Mr. Trump and why he hasn’t used the moment to attack his primary opponent.

“I’ve been consistent all along that I would have made different judgments than Donald Trump made,” he said. “That is why I’m running in this race for the presidency, the same race that he’s in, because I would have made different and, I believe, better judgments for the country.”

“But a bad judgment is not the same thing as a crime and when we conflate the two that sets a dangerous precedent for this country. I don’t want to see us become some banana republic where the party in power uses police force to arrest its political opponents,” he continued.

Ahead of the breach at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Trump had challenged the results of the 2020 election and called on supporters to rally in Washington D.C. to protest the results and urge lawmakers not to certify the results from several close state contests. As Mr. Trump addressed a crowd of supporters at the Ellipse, thousands of people began moving over to the Capitol, and hundreds of people entered the building and clashed with Capitol Police, disrupting congressional proceedings.

Ramaswamy’s Stance on Jan. 6

Mr. Ramaswamy’s comments to Fox News join a mix of remarks he has offered about Mr. Trump and about the events that took place at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In a Jan. 12, 2021, post on his Twitter account, Mr. Ramaswamy said, “What Trump did last week was wrong. Downright abhorrent. Plain and simple.”

Throughout the 2024 primary buildup, Mr. Ramaswamy has indicated he would pardon peaceful protesters who were present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Despite his criticisms of the former president, Mr. Ramaswamy has also consistently defended Mr. Trump against rising criminal allegations.

Last month, when special counsel Jack Smith charged Mr. Trump with mishandling classified documents from his presidency, Mr. Ramaswamy accused the U.S. Department of Justice of acting at the behest of President Joe Biden to “selectively prosecute” Mr. Trump, who is also the leading Republican 2024 candidate.

Last week, after Mr. Trump alluded to the new charges he could face in connection with the 2021 Capitol breach, Mr. Ramaswamy released a video again accusing the Biden administration of targeting his leading Republican opponent.

In that video, Mr. Ramaswamy said, “We’re not supposed to be a country where the party in power uses police force to indict and eliminate its political opponents.”

Ramaswamy’s 2024 Interests

Throughout his various defenses of Mr. Trump, Mr. Ramaswamy has noted that speaking out on behalf of his 2024 primary opponent goes against his own interests in the contest to become the Republican presidential nominee. Mr. Ramaswamy reiterated that point during his comments to Fox News on Sunday.

“Self-interestedly, it would be much easier for me to win this election if Trump were not the front-runner, if Trump were eliminated by the federal administrative police state, but that’s not the right thing for the country,” he told Fox News.

In June, as Mr. Trump was arraigned on the classified documents charges, Mr. Ramaswamy made a pledge to pardon his primary opponent if he eventually becomes president. Mr. Ramaswamy circulated that same pledge to the campaigns of the other Republican 2024 contenders.

Mr. Ramaswamy also filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, seeking records of communications between the Biden White House, the DOJ, and the special counsel’s office in connection with the decisions to charge Mr. Trump.

Asked during the Sunday Fox News interview why he had not taken any direct jabs at Mr. Trump throughout the 2024 primary build-up, Mr. Ramaswamy said he’s not necessarily interested in picking a fight with any of his opponents.

“I am not running against anyone in this race I’m not running against my fellow GOP Primary contenders, I’m not even strictly running against Biden,” he said. “I am running for this country and I think that’s something we’ve long missed in our conservative movement. Too long we have been running from something I am leading us to something to our vision of what it means to be American.”

Other 2024 GOP Candidates Weigh In

Like Mr. Ramaswamy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sought to separate his moral judgment of Mr. Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, from his legal judgment of the former president’s actions that day. In his initial reaction to the possible Jan. 6 charges against Mr. Trump, Mr. DeSantis—who is also running for the Republican presidential nomination—said “[Mr. Trump] should have come out more forcefully, of course, that. But to try to criminalize that; that’s a different issue entirely.”

In the face of his mounting legal cases, other 2024 Republican primary candidates have called more sharply to condemn Mr. Trump and called for him to end his campaign.

“While Donald Trump would like the American people to believe that he is the victim in this situation, the truth is that the real victims of January 6th were our democracy, our rule of law, and those Capitol Police officers who worked valiantly to protect our Capitol,” said former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

“Anyone who truly loves this country and is willing to put the country over themselves would suspend their campaign for President of the United States immediately. It is disappointing that Donald Trump refuses to do so.”

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said the Republican field needs to be focusing on policy issues rather than Mr. Trump’s legal situation.

“We can’t be sitting there focused on lawsuits over and over again,” she has said.

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