Pence won’t say whether he’s read Trump indictment after calling for its release

Pence has said that Trump is innocent until proven guilty

Eric Garcia
Greensboro, NC
Saturday 10 June 2023 20:38 BST
Mike Pence's ignores question on Donald Trump's indictment

Former vice president Mike Pence refused to answer a question from The Independent about whether he had read the indictment against former president Donald Trump as he left the North Carolina Republican Party’s convention on Saturday.

Mr Pence was exiting the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro after he spoke to the convention for its First in Freedom Lunch and was taking a selfie with a supporter. His staff said “no gaggle” when asked whether the former vice president had read the indictment.

This came despite the fact that during his speech, he criticised Mr Trump’s indictment by a grand jury as politicised, calling it a “sad day for America.”

“I had hoped the Department of Justice would see its way clear to resolve the issues involving the former president without an indictment and I'm deeply troubled to see this indictment move forward,” he said.

Mr Pence said he had been one of the first people to call on US Attorney General Merrick Garland to unseal the indictment.

“Today, I'm calling on the Attorney General to stand before the American people and explain why this was necessary in his words,” Mr Pence said. “Attorney General Merrick Garland, stop hiding behind the special counsel and stand before the American people and explain why this indictment went forward.”

A grand jury under the supervision of Special Counsel Jack Smith chose to indict Mr Trump. The unsealed 49-page indictment showed that Mr Trump faced 37 counts.

Mr Trump was charged with “with felony violations of our national security laws as well as participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice” by a grand jury in the Southern District of Florida.

The indictment accuses Mr Trump of showing classified documents to unauthorised people at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club on two occasions, once with a writer and a publisher working on a book by his former chief of staff Mark Meadows and another time when he showed a classified map of an unnamed country that involved staff working for Mr Trump’s political action committee.

Still, the former vice president sought to draw a distinction between himself and the former president on issues ranging from abortion to January 6.

“It gives me no pleasure to say, but on that fateful day, the American people deserve to know that President Trump demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution,” he told attendees in the reception room.

“Under the Constitution, states conduct our elections, certify those elections, court challenges can be had, objections can be heard in the Congress,” he said.

Mr Pence warned that if Republicans went the path that Mr Trump prescribed, then Democrats would nationalise elections.

“I'm glad he said it just to stand his ground and to completely distance himself,” Burt Johnson, who attended the dinner, said. “I don't think it was needed. But he drew a clear line. He was unequivocal. And I think that's important.”

But not everyone was pleased with Mr Pence and many still resent the fact that he refused to overturn the 2020 presidential election results on January 6, which led to the mob yelling “hang Mike Pence.”

Patricia Koluch of Pender County had a simple reason for why she did not attend Mr Pence’s speech.

“Well, January 6,” she told The Independent. “And a lot of behind-the-scenes information about who he really is and what he stands for.”

Mr Pence announced his candidacy this week. He also criticised Mr Trump for his admonishing states for passing legislation restricting abortion and for not supporting reforming entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.

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