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McGovern worries Trump could pardon ‘domestic terrorists’ who stormed US Capitol

US Representative James McGovern tells WCVB-TV he thinks the president may also pardon himself and his family

Security is increased around the Capitol ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Sunday.
Security is increased around the Capitol ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Sunday.john minchillo/Associated Press

US Representative James McGovern told WCVB-TV Sunday he is worried that President Trump, with just days left in office, will pardon supporters who stormed the US Capitol in an attempted insurrection to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died in the Jan. 6 riot, in which thousands battled police and charged the building while both Congress met to confirm the election of President-elect Joe Biden.

McGovern, a Worcester Democrat who spoke to WCVB-TV’s “On The Record,” joined his Democratic House colleagues and 10 Republicans in voting to impeach Trump Wednesday for inciting the riot at the US Capitol. Trump has in the past said he has the power to pardon himself — a claim that some legal experts dispute — but McGovern said Sunday he is concerned about what Trump will do before he leaves the White House.

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“I think he will pardon everybody, including himself or his family,” McGovern said. “But I’m worried about him pardoning these domestic terrorists who are responsible for what happened here on Jan. 6.”

On the day of the riot, McGovern could be see in video as the mob tried to break down a set of doors between rioters and lawmakers. McGovern called those who stormed the Capitol “home-grown fascists” and “domestic terrorists” during his WCVB interview.

Elected leaders and national security officials have offered differing accounts of precautions taken ahead of the riot. On Sunday, McGovern said security preparations at the Capitol were a failure, and McGovern pledged a “top to bottom” review of what happened.

In video from the siege, it appeared that police on scene were overwhelmed by the size of the mob that pushed its way into the Capitol building.

The single article of impeachment, which charged Trump with “incitement of insurrection,” will go to the Senate for trial. Senators could move forward with the proceedings as early as this week, though its unlikely they would come before Trump leaves office Jan. 20.

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“This was an insurrection, this was an attempted coup. This was a violent attack on the nation’s Capitol... these people came here to destroy property, to kidnap and potentially murder elected officials,” McGovern said. “You can’t just excuse this.”

The House is seeking information on tours conducted of the Capitol building before the riot. McGovern said if there is hard evidence that a member of Congress helped plan the attempted insurrection, Congress should move for expulsion or censure of that lawmaker.

In the aftermath, The FBI warned last week of the potential threat posed by right-wing extremists ahead of Biden’s inauguration.

The alert prompted Governor Charlie Baker and other governors to take precautions, including fortifying capitol buildings. In Boston Sunday, hundreds of Boston police officers surrounded the State House, while metal barricades were erected around the building and nearby streets were blocked.

McGovern told WCVB-TV there are more troops in Washington D.C. than in Iraq and Afghanistan Sunday.

“I’ve never seen anything like this, even after 9/11,” McGovern said.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.