Former Vice President Mike Pence balked at the idea of a potential indictment of Donald Trump, categorizing any possible prosecutorial actions as “politically charged” and “not what the American people want to see.”
Speaking with ABC’s Jon Karl during a taped interview Saturday, Pence defended any peaceful protests that may break out at Trump’s behest, after the former president called for his supporters to “take our nation back,” while still condemning the egregious violence that the country witnessed at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
“The American people have a constitutional right to peacefully assemble,” Pence said, adding, “The frustration the American people feel about what they sense is a two-tiered justice system in this country, I think is well founded. But I believe that people understand that if they give voice to this – if this occurs on Tuesday, that they need to do so peaceful and in a lawful manner.”
Pence’s comments underscore his attempts to walk a fine line in issuing criticism and support for his former boss amid mounting expectations that he will vie for the Republican presidential nomination. Just last week, at the annual Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, DC, the former vice president issued his most blistering comments yet about Trump’s role in the attack on the Capitol.
“President Trump was wrong. I had no right to overturn the election, and his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable,” Pence said at the dinner.
Trump has repeatedly pushed back on that assertion and argued Pence was at fault because he didn’t attempt to overturn the 2020 election results.
“The president’s wrong,” Pence told ABC. “He was wrong that day, and I had actually hoped that he would come around in time, Jon, that he would see that the cadre of legal advisers that he surrounded himself with had led him astray. But he hasn’t done so and it’s … I think it’s one of the reasons why the country just wants a fresh start.”
Pence said the former president let him and the country down on January 6 and Trump’s continued discourse on the events is one of the reasons why the former duo has gone their “separate ways.”
Still, Pence maintained he is “taken aback at the idea of indicting a former president of the United States.”
Trump said Saturday that he expects to be arrested in connection with the yearslong investigation into a hush money scheme involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels and he called on his supporters to protest any such move.
In a social media post, Trump, referring to himself, said the “leading Republican candidate and former president of the United States will be arrested on Tuesday of next week” – though he did not say why he expects to be arrested. His team said after Trump’s post that it had not received any notifications from prosecutors.
Law enforcement has discussed how to navigate the potential indictment on a criminal charge by a New York county grand jury and the choreography around the possibility of an unprecedented arrest of a former president.
Should he be indicted, Trump is expected to surrender and be processed and arraigned at a New York courthouse, which includes fingerprinting and mug shots, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
“At a time when there’s a crime wave in New York City, the fact that the Manhattan DA thinks that indicting president Trump is his top priority just tells you everything you need to know about the radical left in this country,” Pence said Saturday.
Turning to the subpoena he received from the special counsel investigating Trump’s post-2020 election activities, Pence said he is not challenging all the elements of the subpoena and that he and his lawyers aren’t asserting executive privilege. Trump, though, has already cited executive privilege in a motion to prevent Pence from testifying before a grand jury.
As for 2024, Pence said he is “giving serious consideration” to a White House bid, and, speaking to reporters in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, he said, “No one is above the law, and I’m confident President Trump can take care of himself. My focus is going to continue to be on the issues that are affecting the American people.”
Lauren Koenig and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.