LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) — Gov. Pete Ricketts said Friday he doesn’t think that former President Donald Trump should be criminally charged in connection with his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“I don’t think there’s any evidence to charge President Trump with any crimes,” the governor said, in response to a question after a press conference Friday.
Ricketts, a Republican who has had some differences with the former president, said he caught “a little” of the congressional hearing Thursday night by the Select House Committee on the Jan. 6 attack but didn’t watch the entire three-hour event.
Previously, the governor has called the Jan. 6 probe a “partisan rehash of mostly old information.”
Thursday’s night hearing focused on what Trump did and didn’t do, as a mob ransacked the Capitol after he had urged them to march on the building and “fight like hell” or “you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Some committee members said Thursday that Trump had violated his oath of office to defend the Constitution by not quickly calling off the rioters, who were seeking to disrupt the certification of the results of the 2020 election, which was won by Democrat Joe Biden.
It was more than three hours after the attack began that Trump asked rioters to go home, despite being urged earlier by members of Congress, his staff and family members to intervene.
On Friday, one member of the Jan. 6 committee, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told The Hill that the committee’s hearings had “proven different components of a criminal case” against former President Trump.
A ‘system of laws’
Ricketts, when asked Friday if what Trump did prior and during the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol “was appropriate,” gave the following answer:
“I believe everybody who went into the Capitol building intent on doing violence did so of their own accord,” the governor said. “We have a system of laws that holds people accountable for their actions.”
Does Ricketts think what the president did was appropriate?
“In hindsight, we can always look back and see if we would have done things differently,” Ricketts said. “But everyone who participated in those attacks did so of their own free will.”
That, he said, is the same for those who participated in riots in May 2020 following the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Ricketts said he didn’t think that organizations behind those riots in places like Omaha were being held accountable.
“I don’t think anyone’s trying to hold them accountable,” he said. “Why? Because we hold individuals accountable.”
During the year’s GOP primary, Trump backed Falls City businessman Charles Herbster, despite being urged by Ricketts to not endorse in the race. Ricketts backed University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, who won the primary.
During the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Ricketts’ parents, Joe and Marlene, gave $5.5 million to a super PAC aiming to block Trump’s. But once it became clear he would be the nominee, the Ricketts family gave their support.
Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: email@example.com. Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.