Mike Pence Says ‘No One’s Above the Law,’ But Indicting Trump for Crimes Would ‘Send a Terrible Message’


CNN’s Dana Bash pursued a line of questioning with Mike Pence that prompted the former vice president to offer seemingly contradictory responses during a town hall in Iowa.

On Wednesday, it was reported that former President Donald Trump was formally told by the Department of Justice that he is the target of an investigation. Publicly, this has been known, as Special Counsel Jack Smith has been investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his improper retention of government documents – some of which were classified – after he left office. Attorney General Merrick Garland tapped Smith to oversee the DOJ’s probe after Trump declared his candidacy for president in November.

“What’s your reaction to the news about your former boss?” Bash asked.

“Well, let me say the handling of classified materials is a very serious matter,” Pence replied before recalling his own case of taking government material with him when he left office. The former veep said it was an accident and he immediately officials to arrange for their return. He was cleared of wrongdoing.

“Do you see his case as different?” she inquired.

“I don’t know the facts of the former president’s case,” he responded before referring to the FBI’s execution of a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August. “But what we’ve got to have in this country is equal treatment under the law. And Dana, you may not know, I was very troubled last summer when for the first time in history, there was a search warrant executed at the home of a former president of the United States.”

Bash subsequently asked Pence if the DOJ should prosecute Trump if it finds he committed obstruction:

BASH: Sir, I understand you’re talking about equal treatment. But the question is allegations that an investigation into obstruction, which you clearly did not do. If that is something that investigators see as possible and even enough potentially to indict the former president, do you think that that should go forward?

PENCE: Well, I would hope not. I really would, Dana. I mean, there’s several reasons for that. Number one is I think it would be terribly divisive to the country… This kind of action by the Department of Justice I think would only fuel further division in the country. And let me also say I think it would also send a terrible message to the wider world. I mean, we are the emblem of democracy. We’re the symbol of justice in the world. And the serious matter, which has already happened once in New York of indicting a former president in the United States sends a terrible message to the world. I hope the DOJ thinks better of it and resolves these issues without an indictment.

BASH: Sir, I just want to clarify. What you’re saying is if they believe he committed a crime, they should not go forward with an indictment? You just talked before about committing to the rule of law.

PENCE: Let me be clear that no one’s above the law… 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: Sir, if Donald Trump is convicted of a crime and you’re elected president, would you pardon him?

PENCE: Well, I don’t want to speak about hypotheticals. I’m not sure I’m going to be elected president of the United States. But I believe we have a fighting chance. I really believe we do.

BASH: And if you are?

PENCE: And I would hope–again, Dana, you’re as persistent as ever. CNN is living up to its reputation. Look, there are real issues the American people are facing. And rather than talking about that, I want to talk about what the people here in Iowa are talking about, which is the failed policies of the Biden administration. The need for us to have new leadership in the White House and in our party.

Watch above via CNN.

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Mike is a Mediaite senior editor who covers the news in primetime.