By Gary Bai
Former President Donald Trump said on Aug. 7 that if he returns to the White House in 2025 he’ll rehire the service members who lost their jobs by refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I think it’s a disgrace what happened to them,” Trump said, answering a reporter’s question.
Trump was responding to questions from the press before he took the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas on Saturday.
“I’d let them back. I’d give back pay,” Trump said. “So I would give them their back pay and I would let them back, and they understand that. They know it.”
Back pay is “a common remedy for wage violations” where “the employer makes up the difference between what the employee was paid and the amount he or she should have been paid,” according to the Department of Labor.
Trump’s comments came weeks after the U.S. army announced plans to cut more than 60,000 guards and reserve soldiers for refusing COVID-19 vaccines.
“Soldiers who refuse the vaccination order without an approved or pending exemption request are subject to adverse administrative actions, including flags, bars to service, and official reprimands,” a July 1 statement on the U.S. Army’s website reads.
More than 19,000 U.S. Army personnel have refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine, as of July 14, 2022, according to U.S. Army data. The Army approved a total of 24 medical and 19 religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine.
Jabuary 6 Pardons
In response to another question, Trump said he’ll “very strongly” consider pardoning nonviolent political prisoners who have been indicted as a result of participating in the January 6 Capitol breach.
“We’ll certainly be looking at it, and very strongly,” Trump said, adding that he has made previous statements about potentially pardoning January 6 political prisoners.
“I think many people are being treated very unfair … having to do with that. And we will be looking at that very strongly,” Trump said. “I think you know the answer.”
The president hinted strongly at but stopped short of announcing a 2024 run.
“Well, it’s not a long period, regardless, whether you go before or after, certainly not a very long period of time,” the former president said. He raised the same point in an interview with the New Yorker earlier this year, when he said he’s undecided on whether to announce his decision on a 2024 run before or after the midterms.
“It’s coming,” Trump said, “and I think people are going to be very happy.”
“Our country has never been in a position like this. We lost everything. We’ve lost energy independence. We’ve lost our prestige. We’ve lost every single thing you can lose,” Trump said, noting the withdrawal from Afghanistan—which he previously called “the greatest tactical mistake in history“—and the border crisis.
“So we’ll be making an announcement in the not-too-distance future.”