Haley says she’d pardon Trump if he’s convicted

Haley says she’d pardon Trump if he’s convicted

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said late Sunday that, if elected to the White House, she would pardon former President Trump if he’s convicted of a federal crime.

Asked the question directly by an audience member at a Fox News town hall in South Carolina, where she once served as governor, Haley said a pardon would be in the country’s “best interest” so Americans can work to “leave the negativity behind” without being further divided.

“If you’re talking about pardoning Trump, it’s not a matter of innocence or guilt at that point, because that means he would have already been found guilty,” Haley said at the town hall, hosted by John Roberts. “I believe, in the best interest of bringing the country together, I would pardon Donald Trump. Because I think it’s important for the country to move on.”

“We’ve got to leave the negativity and the baggage behind,” she added. “I don’t want this country divided any further. I don’t think it’s in the best interests for America to have an 80-year-old president sitting in jail and having everybody upset about it. I think this would be the time that we would need to move forward and get this out of the way.”

Trump currently faces four criminal indictments, including two on the federal level brought by special counsel Jack Smith — one related to his alleged efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election and another for allegedly willfully retaining national security information and obstructing efforts by the federal government to retrieve the document.

Despite his legal challenges, Trump remains the party’s front-runner; in the latest national polling average from The Hill/Decision Desk HQ, Trump led Haley by 62.9 percentage points, 79.1 percent to Haley’s 16.2 percent.

Haley’s comments come one week before the South Carolina GOP primary, slated to be held Saturday. Trump’s lead in South Carolina is narrower than his national lead, according to the primary polling average. He leads by 31.8 percentage points, 64.3 percent to Haley’s 32.5 percent.

Haley has previously been asked about the possibility of a presidential pardon — a step taken by President Ford following President Nixon’s resignation in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Ford’s controversial pardon applied to all offenses that Nixon “has committed or may have committed,” according to the language used at the time.

In January, Haley said she would not consider a preemptive pardon for Trump but would issue a pardon if he were found guilty.

“I think you only do it if someone’s found guilty. So, you know, what I’ll say is this is about moving the country forward, and the last thing we want to see is an 80-year-old former president sitting in jail,” she said on Fox News when asked if she would pledge to pardon Trump preemptively or only if he was found guilty.

“Instead, we want to say, ‘OK, how do we put the past behind us and move forward as a country?’ And I think that by pardoning him, that absolutely would move the country forward, instead of dividing it further. And so I think you always have to look at what’s in the best interests of the country,” she added.

Updated at 9:35 a.m. ET

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