Biden urged to pardon Trump once he leaves office

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Former FBI director James Comey says U.S. president-elect Joe Biden should consider pardoning outgoing President Donald Trump if he ends up being convicted in any of the criminal investigations he could be facing after he leaves office and that it wouldn’t be a declaration of innocence if he did.

“Our Supreme Court, in 1915, said if you’re pardoned and you accept that pardon, it’s an admission of guilt,” Comey said in an interview with The Current’s Matt Galloway.

“That’s an important vehicle for accountability as well that people often don’t talk about.”

On the campaign trail in May, Biden said that he would not pardon Trump and would leave any investigations and prosecutions to the Department of Justice. Last week, he picked Merrick Garland as his attorney general, tasking him with restoring the independence of the department.

Comey described Biden’s hands-off approach as “prudent.”

Trump became the first U.S. president to be impeached for a second time Wednesday, charged with “incitement of insurrection” in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.

Pro-Trump rioters stormed the building on Jan. 6 in a bid to thwart Congress’s official certification of the presidential election results after a rally where Trump called on them to “fight like hell.” Lawmakers were rushed to safety, and five people died, including one police officer.

Comey said he was sickened by the attack. While he said he was not surprised at the violence, given the rhetoric of Trump’s presidency, he was surprised the rioters successfully breached the building.

“We need a 9/11-type commission in the United States to understand what happened,” he said.

“If there is a need for new authorities, for new guidelines, that’s something we have to talk about. But let’s gather the facts first.”

The trial phase of Trump’s impeachment is unlikely to reach the U.S. Senate before Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. And in the days following the riot, the U.S. Justice Department said it did not plan to pursue criminal charges of incitement against the president.

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