Sen Elizabeth Warren told The Independent Donald Trump was “trying to commit insurrection in public” after the former president said he would likely pardon rioters from the January 6 Capitol insurrection if he is elected again.
“Trump appears to be trying to commit insurrection out in public and dare law enforcement officials to call him out for it,” Ms Warren, a former Harvard Law School professor, said. “I hope they do.”
Mr Trump told supporters in Conroe, Texas over the weekend that he would consider pardoning those who were responsible for the riot.
“If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly,” he said at a rally on Saturday. “And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.”
The House of Representatives impeached Mr Trump after the riot on the Capitol wherein his supporters broke into the complex in an attempt to overturn the results from the 2020 electoral college.
Some Republican Senators dismissed the question.
“I wish you would ask me something on policy once in a while,” Sen Deb Fischer of Nebraska told The Independent.
Sen Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was more tepid.
“That’s speculation,” Mr Grassley, who is up for re-election this year, said. “I can’t speculate on anything.”
Sen Rick Scott of Florida, who is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, compared the idea of pardoning rioters to when he would pardon people as governor of Florida.
“The way I would do it is go through everybody’s cases, and that’s what I did as governor,” he said. “Case by case.”
Mr Grassley said that any pardon authority would be handled by President Joe Biden for the time being. Mr Trump endorsed Mr Grassley at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa in October and Mr Grassley made an appearance next to the former president.
Other Republicans vocally denounced the former president’s rhetoric. Sen Joni Ernst of Iowa echoed the words of Sen Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
“I don’t think they should be pardoned,” she told The Independent.
Sen Cynthia Lummis from Wyoming supported Republican objections to Pennsylvania’s election results in 2021.
“I don’t really have much opinion about that,” she said when asked about Mr Trump’s statements. But she was more explicit when asked whether people who were responsible for January 6 should be pardoned.
“It depends on the degree of their involvement,” she said. “And I think that people who were found to be instigators who broke in, who entered the chambers, especially those who were in altercations with Capitol Police and other law enforcement should not be pardoned.”
Sen Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who voted to convict Mr Trump for his role in the January 6 riot, said they should not be pardoned.
“If you do the crime you do the time,” he told The Independent. “Period. You shouldn’t be pardoned for that.”
Sen Lisa Murkowski of Alaska repeated the sentiment. Ms Murkowski is up for re-election and Mr Trump is supporting her primary challenger Kelly Tshibaka.
“Those people that came into this building, defiled this place, threatened not only the institution itself, deserve to be in jail, they don’t deserve to be pardoned,” she said.
Sen Joe Manchin, the conservative Democrat from West Virginia, criticised the former president’s words.
“That’s horrific,” he said. “We really need to bring our country together, you can’t continue to just keep planting seeds of division.”
Mr Trump’s words came as a bipartisan group of Senators attempts to reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which governs how electoral votes are counted. Among the provisions Senators hope to change is that the vice president’s role would be mostly ceremonial .
Mr Trump vocally criticised attempts to change the law on Sunday, admitting he wanted to “overturn” the results of the election, and personally called out Sen Susan Collins of Maine.
“To me it just underscores the need for us to modernize and clarify the ambiguities that are in a law that is nearly a century and a half old,” she told The Independent.