A top Democratic senator on Sunday called on lawmakers from both parties to condemn former president Donald Trump's suggestion that he would pardon Jan. 6 insurrectionists.
"I cannot believe I would ever hear this from somebody running for office or in office," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who serves as president pro tem for the chamber.
"I was a prosecutor for eight years," Leahy told CNN. "To think that someone would run for a high office and say, 'You can conduct any kind of criminal conduct you want, don't worry, if you're doing it to support me, I'll give you a pardon when I get there.' As a prosecutor, I'd say, 'Somebody's making this up. It couldn't be real.'"
"And yet when you were there on Jan. 6 as I was— and I look out and I see them putting a noose up to hang the vice president if he didn't throw the election out," Leahy continued. "I see people storming through, I could smell the tear gas. I could see the damaged windows, beautiful parts of the Capitol had been damaged. And then seeing people say, 'We're doing this because Donald Trump told us to.' This is not a democracy. This is something you'd see in a third-world nation with a two-bit dictator."
Host Jim Acosta then played clips of Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Susan Collins (R-ME) responding to Trump's remarks, saying their comments were "not exactly a full-throated condemnation."
"That was not exactly a profile-in-courage moment," Acosta said of Graham and Collins. "Senator, do you think we're going to see anything more from your Republican colleagues in terms of defending our democracy and condemning this thuggish, dictator-like behavior we're seeing from Trump at these rallies?"
"I think you have to have people stand up in both parties," Leahy responded. "We saw that after Watergate with Richard Nixon, when you had people ranging from Barry Goldwater to Mike Mansfield – from the right to the left — saying this was wrong."
"When somebody commits a crime or incites crime, that's wrong," he added. "I don't care if they're Republicans or Democrats. And what the former president has done — there's no question he incited a riot last year, and there's no question that he wants to keep on encouraging it. Can you image saying, 'Look, don't worry, you go out and commit whatever crimes you want, if it's helping me get elected, if I get elected, I'll take care of you. I'll give you a pardon.' That's something nobody, Republican or Democrat, should accept. That is third-world baloney."
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