Mike Pence, who served as vice president under President Donald Trump from 2017–2021, said the indictment of the former president is “a great disservice to the country” and that he thinks millions of Americans will see it as “nothing more than a political prosecution.”
Pence reacted to the indictment during a 10-minute exclusive interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on March 30, hours after news broke that a New York grand jury had voted to criminally charge Trump.
He said it was wrong for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to pursue charges after Bragg’s predecessor and federal prosecutors declined to do so. Pence said he also took issue with Bragg running for office “on the pledge to indict the former president.”
“I think that offends the notion of the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe in fairness, who believe in equal treatment before the law,” Pence said, adding that singling out Trump appears to be an example of “a two-tiered justice system,” and that the American people are fed up with it.
“This is a bad decision by a political prosecutor,” he said.
When Blitzer pointed out that a grand jury, not Bragg, voted to indict Trump, Pence replied that, clearly, the prosecutor is very influential in guiding a grand jury toward an indictment and that “the threshold of proof is very low.”
Pence, who is an attorney, called the prosecution “an outrage” and said there is “a possibility that a judge will even throw this case out before we even go to trial.”
While stating that he cannot speak to the merits of Bragg’s case, Pence said that a campaign finance issue “should never have risen to the level to bring an unprecedented and historic prosecution.”
Media ‘Obsession’ With Trump ‘Lost’ on Citizenry
While considering his own possible run for the presidency, Pence said he has been traveling around the country quite a bit. Yet, in his travels, he said, not a single citizen raised the issue of the probes Trump has been facing. “The media’s obsession about these investigations into Donald Trump, I think it’s being lost on the American people who are struggling under the weight of the failed policies of the Biden administration,” Pence said.
He said Americans “see it as one more example of the criminalization of politics in this country.”
Pence is concerned about how the prosecution is being perceived on the world stage. It sends “a terrible message about the American justice system,” Pence said. He would have preferred for Bragg to “have thought better of it and put the interest of the nation first.”
Blitzer asked whether Pence is worried about violent protests in the wake of Trump’s indictment, considering that some people who disagreed with the November 2020 presidential election committed violent acts at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Pence and Congress were considering whether to certify the election results that put Democrat Joe Biden in the White House.
“There’s no excuse” for rhetoric encouraging violence “on either side of this debate,” Pence said, “and there’s really no reason to be calling for people to be protesting over it as well. ”
Blitzer pointed out that Trump’s first 2024 campaign rally, held in Texas this past weekend, opened with a recording of incarcerated Jan. 6 defendants singing the National Anthem and asked whether Pence was comfortable with that. He said he wasn’t, noting that he, his wife, daughter, and staff were all evacuated from the U.S. Senate floor during the Jan. 6 disturbances.
“I’ll never diminish what happened that day,” he said, adding that he would never “celebrate” people who “ransacked” the Capitol and attacked police. However, Pence said he believes that some well-intentioned people were swept up into the crowd.
“While it did not end well, I’ll always be proud of the record of the Trump-Pence administration,” he said.