2024 presidential candidate Mike Pence on Wednesday struggled to take a clear stance on the legal troubles of his one-time boss, Donald Trump, ultimately refusing to rule out pardoning the former president should he win the White House.
In a CNN town hall in Iowa the same day he announced his candidacy, the former vice president continued to waffle on criminal matters relating to Trump.
When asked by moderator Dana Bash about the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump’s potential mishandling of classified documents, Pence responded that even though he didn’t know the facts of the case, “what we’ve got to have in this country is equal treatment under the law.”
Yet when asked whether an indictment of Trump should move forward if investigators believe there is enough evidence to do so, Pence couldn’t commit to what he had just said.
“Well, I would hope not,” he said, claiming that it would be “terribly divisive to the country”–a line that Trump defenders have used in response to Trump’s impeachment over the Jan. 6 insurrection and his indictment in March on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. “I hope the DOJ thinks better of it and resolves these issues without an indictment.”
Whether Pence would prefer a sternly worded letter, he didn’t make clear. Bash quickly followed up on the vagary of his comments.
“Sir, I just want to clarify. What you’re saying is that if they believe he committed a crime, they should not go forward with an indictment?” she asked. “You just talked before about committing to the rule of law.”
“Let me be clear that no one’s above the law, but with regard to the unique circumstances here,” Pence said before taking a few breaths to regroup.
“I had no business having classified documents in my residence, and I took full responsibility for it. President Biden had no business having them in his residence from when he was vice president as well. And the same with former President Trump,” he said. Pence then essentially repeated himself when he finally came around to Bash’s question.
“But I would just hope that there would be a way for them to move forward without the dramatic and drastic and divisive step of indicting a former president of the United States. We’ve got to find a way to move our country forward and restore confidence in equal treatment under the law in this country. We really do.”
Bash then asked Pence directly if he would pardon Trump if he were convicted of a crime.
“Well, I don’t want to speak about hypotheticals,” Pence said, adding later: “Rather than talking about that, I want to talk about what the people in Iowa are talking about, which is the failed policies of the Biden administration.”
Pence’s opaque stance on the former president was evident earlier Wednesday as well.
While declaring his presidential bid, Pence told Iowans, “I believe that anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States. And anyone who asks someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president of the United States again.”
However, Pence later said on Fox News that he would “absolutely” support the GOP nominee in 2024.
Source: The Daily Beast
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