Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has defended former President Donald Trump’s record despite being his rival in the 2024 GOP presidential primary race.
He has also indicated that, if elected, he would immediately pardon Trump of federal charges related allegedly improper handling of classified documents.
Shortly after new counts were announced in July, Ramaswamy described special counsel Jack Smith’s case as “clearly a politicized prosecution,” adding that pardoning Trump would help “put the grievances of the past behind us.”
Of course, the D.C. indictment is just one of four that have been filed against the former president in recent months. The other three involve state-level charges that would not be subject to the president’s pardon power. Nevertheless, Ramaswamy has used recent public appearances to rail against all of the criminal charges.
During the first Republican primary debate, his was the first hand to raise when the candidates were asked whether they would still support Trump if he were the nominee and had already been convicted of a crime.
WOW! Very telling moment as candidates are asked if they’d support a convicted Donald Trump as the party’s choice.
Ramaswamy immediately raises hand.
Haley and Scott follow.
DeSantis hesitates and looks first to see if others have raised hands before raising hand.
— Brandon Straka (@BrandonStraka) August 24, 2023
Ramaswamy elaborated on his stance in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, when anchor George Stephanopoulos asked him to explain his hypothetical willingness to vote for a convicted felon.
“If the Constitution permits somebody to run, and that’s the person that people of this country want to elect, then that’s the way our system works and I stand by it,” the candidate replied.
Stephanopoulos was clearly not satisfied with the response, however, and shot back: “Why do you think it’s OK for a convicted felon to be president?”
In a lengthier response, Ramaswamy offered a more robust critique of the indictments against Trump, calling them “outright, downright politicized persecutions through prosecution that set an awful precedent for our country.”
If these tactics are permitted to bring down the candidacy of a leading presidential contender, he warned, the future of American democracy would be in serious jeopardy.
“I do not want to see us become a banana republic where the administrative police state uses police force to eliminate opponents from competition,” he concluded. “That is not the way it works. I will pick who I believe the best next president should be.”