Vivek Ramaswamy argued Sunday that pardoning former President Donald Trump would “reunite” the country but will “not be the most important thing I’ll do as the next president.”
Noting that he’s polling second among GOP presidential candidates in some recent national polls, Ramaswamy argued during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” that though “it would be easier for me if Donald Trump were eliminated from competition,” he is against the current Republican front-runner being forced out of the race amid the four indictments against him.
“I think we continue to set a dangerous precedent. I do not want us to see us march to some kind of national divorce. And I am worried,” Ramaswamy told ABC host George Stephanopoulos, “That day by day, we’re inching in a dark direction for this country. I do not want to see another day like January 6 in this country. But I think the way that we’re going to get there is by moving this nation forward – not by engaging in vengeance-driven prosecution to eliminate one man from running, becoming some sort of banana republic.”
Stephanopoulos hammered Ramaswamy on why he would vote for Trump if Ramaswamy categorizes the former president’s actions on January 6 as “abhorrent.”
Ramaswamy shot back that he’s repeatedly argued that there’s a “difference between a bad judgment and a crime.” He also noted how just like all the other Republicans on the Milwaukee debate stage, they took a pledge to support whoever becomes the party’s eventual 2024 presidential nominee to qualify.
“I think that the way elections work in the United States of America is that people in a political party get to choose their nominee and then the people in the general election get to choose their president. The fact that that’s a foreign idea shows how badly our political culture had decayed in this country,” Ramaswamy said. “That’s an obvious statement of how our constitutional republic works. Now I’m in this race to be that nominee. And I think our republic would be better served if we debated who exactly in the Republican Party and who exactly in the general election was best positioned to reignite our economy, to reunite our country, to declare independence from our adversaries.”
“I’ve offered unprecedented clarity on how I would go further than Trump in advancing that America First agenda in a way that brings all Americans together. And unlike many in the media, I’m not rooting for division by using a trial or four trials about one man to make that the basis for a referendum on an election,” he continued, “Now, what I have said is clear. If Donald Trump is the nominee, yes, I will support him. And if I’m president, yes, I will pardon him, because that will help reunite the country. But it’s not the most important thing I’m gonna do as the next president. It is the table stakes for moving this country forward.”
The ABC host also took issue with Ramaswamy categorizing prosecutions against Trump as “illegal,” to which Ramaswamy contended the 49-page indictment in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case nowhere mentions the Presidential Records Act.
“I think the Espionage Act under which Trump was charged is the most un-American statute in our history,” Ramaswamy said. “Would I have done the same and held onto those documents? No, I would not have. Do I think it is an illegal behavior under the Presidential Records Act and other statutes? No, I do not.”
Regarding the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, Ramaswamy challenged Stephanopoulos’ phrasing when the host asked, “Was it wrong to encourage the mob to storm the Capitol?”
“I disagree with that categorization because I’ve read the transcripts very carefully. Peaceful protest is what Donald Trump encouraged. Is that what I would have done that day under those circumstances? No. But I do think that’s different from a crime,” Ramaswamy said. “And so I disagree with a lot of what he did that day. I said so at the time, I say so today, George, I haven’t wavered on that. But that is still different than saying he should be prosecuted for it, which I think sets a dangerous precedent of First Amendment infringements in this country and sets a dangerous precedent for eliminating political opponents in the midst of an election – that’s not where I want to see our country go.”
“We spend a lot of time talking about the Trump family. I want to talk about American families – where do we lead this country? What are we actually running to? How do we shut down the administrative state that is the source of that illegal prosecution against Trump? That’s what I’m focused on – how we get rid of that unconstitutional fourth branch of government.”