Pence says potential Trump arrest would be a 'politically charged prosecution'

Alex Brandon
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Former Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday decried the possibility of the arrest of his former boss, Donald Trump, saying that it would be “a politically charged prosecution.”

In posts to his social media platform Truth Social on Saturday, Trump predicted that he would be arrested on Tuesday, citing "illegal leaks" — which his spokesperson later clarified meant media reports by NBC News and other outlets.

In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Pence said he viewed the possible criminal charges facing the former president as a priority of the “radical left."

“It just feels like a politically charged prosecution here. And I, for my part, I just feel like it’s just not what the American people want to see,” he said.

"I’m taken aback at the idea of indicting a former president of the United States, at a time when there’s a crime wave in New York City, that — the fact that the Manhattan DA thinks that indicting President Trump is his top priority," he added.

Without any notification of an indictment, the former president, in his Truth Social posts, referred to reports that he could soon face charges in New York relating to a hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, and called on supporters to protest. Hours later, he ramped up his calls for demonstrations in another post, writing: “WE MUST SAVE AMERICA! PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!”

Despite his recent strong remarks condemning Trump over Jan. 6, Pence did not push back on his latest call for people to protest. He did, however, say that he thinks demonstrators understand "they need to do so peacefully and in a lawful manner."

He called the violence during the Capitol riot and protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death a “disgrace,” adding: “The American people won’t tolerate it and those that engage in that kind of violence should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Some Republicans, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, swiftly rallied to Trump’s defense on Saturday but stopped short of echoing his calls for protests. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., tweeted “we don’t need to protest” and "these idiots are sealing their own fate in 2024."

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., did not criticize Trump’s call for protests Sunday when pressed by host Chuck Todd on NBC News' "Meet the Press" on whether he considers it "appropriate behavior" from a former president.

“Let me make it clear there’s a difference between the former president and what he did on January 6th as the president of the United States and his call for support at the Capitol, versus an individual person, today, asking people to show up to protest if he is indicted,” Rounds responded.

Asked if he's concerned that Trump's call for protests foments distrust, Rounds said, “Look, I don’t know if he’s fomenting distrust or not."

"But clearly we don’t know whether or not this is actually going to happen,” he said. “We don’t know whether or not there’s actually going to be an indictment.”

More Republicans came to Trump’s defense on Sunday programs.

Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, suggested the timing of Trump’s potential indictment was suspicious.

“It’s very odd that this would come out just the very next day after I revealed bank records, which showed that the Biden family, the president in particular, hasn’t been truthful with respect to his family receiving payments directly from the Chinese Communist Party,” Comer said on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures." “So it almost looks like it’s an effort to detract but at the very least, it’s another example of a two-tier system of justice.”

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said “all Republicans” should get behind Trump.

“All the Democrats hate Trump, there’s some Republicans who hate Trump. So guess what? There’s a double standard. You can do anything you want to Trump. Everybody’s OK with that. But you can’t do it to Biden. There’s a completely double standard,” Scott said on "Sunday Morning Futures."

While Democratic leaders have called Trump's posts to Truth Social demanding protests "reckless" and "inflammatory," Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., said Sunday that Trump's supporters should be able to protest "peacefully" if the former president is arrested.

Kelly said on CNN's "State of the Union" that Trump supporters "have First Amendment rights, and they should be able to exercise those peacefully.” He added that law enforcement must be prepared to ensure such protests don't "rise to the level of violence.”

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