News Briefs

Congressman asked Trump for presidential pardon of four Kansas federal lawmakers

By: - June 24, 2022 12:00 pm
President Donald Trump addresses the nation in March from the Oval Office about the widening coronavirus crisis. He is expected to sign a bill that provides $9.5 billion over five years to pay down the National Park Service’s maintenance backlog. (Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump addresses the nation in March from the Oval Office about the widening coronavirus crisis. (Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images)

TOPEKA — Outgoing U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, who championed Donald Trump’s baseless claims of 2020 election fraud, asked the White House to pardon four members of the Kansas congressional delegation for joining challenges of presidential election results in swing states.

Brooks sent the request Jan. 11, 2021, to Trump’s executive assistant at the White House seeking preemptive exoneration for 147 members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate who voted against certification of Electoral College results in Arizona or Pennsylvania. President Joe Biden prevailed in both states and won the national election.

According to CBS News, Brooks sought general pardons for “every congressman and senator who voted to reject the Electoral College vote submissions of Arizona and Pennsylvania.”

That included four Kansas Republicans: U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall and U.S. Reps. Ron Estes, Jake LaTurner and Tracey Mann.

In addition, Brooks’ email obtained by CBS News requested pardons for “every Republican who signed the amicus brief in the Texas lawsuit” in December 2020. The suit sought an injunction to challenge alleged “unconstitutional irregularities” in voting for president in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

The amicus brief submitted by members of Congress in that lawsuit was signed by 126 lawmakers, including Marshall and Estes.

Brooks, who recently lost the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Alabama after being stripped of Trump’s endorsement, had argued before Trump left office the pardons were necessary to prevent deep-pocketed socialist Democrats from distorting freedoms of speech and association as well as federal law “via their often-used strategy of abusing the judicial process via private organizations they fund or the prosecutorial arm they will soon control.”

Brooks said in the email to Molly Michael, the White House assistant to Trump, the request was forwarded to her at the president’s urging. The email obtained by CBS News was sent five days after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, which coincided with Trump’s appearance at a political rally in Washington, D.C.

Trump didn’t issue blanket pardons to senators and representatives who formally embraced his claims of a rigged or stolen election.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who is seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for governor in Kansas, was among 17 state attorneys general who joined in December 2020 an amicus brief in support of the attempt by Texas to sue the four battleground states regarding outcome of the presidential election.

“These are important and potentially recurring constitutional questions that need an answer to guide states,” Schmidt said at that time. “Kansas ran its elections honestly and by the rules that are supposed to apply evenly to all of us. Texas asserts it can prove four states violated the U.S. Constitution in an election that affects all Americans, so Texas should be heard.”

The U.S. Supreme Court declared days later that Texas had no standing to intervene in the way other states conducted elections. In response, Schmidt said it was appropriate to put the 2020 election “behind us.”

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International.