He ‘can’t defend’ the conduct but thinks the case is also political.
As Mike Pence walked into the Journal’s New York conference room Tuesday afternoon, the cable-TV chyron was carrying news from South Florida: “Donald Trump Now Under Arrest.” More details from our Q&A will be coming soon, but we couldn’t sit on Mr. Pence’s reply to the charges against his old running mate.
“Having read the indictment,” the former Veep says, “these are very serious allegations. And I can’t defend what is alleged. But the President is entitled to his day in court, he’s entitled to bring a defense, and I want to reserve judgment until he has the opportunity to respond.” He emphasizes both that “no one is above the law” and also that “as Americans, you’re innocent until proven guilty.” That said, he seems troubled by what Mr. Trump is alleged to have casually stashed at Mar-a-Lago.
“The suggestion that there were documents pertaining to the defense capabilities of the United States and our allies, our nuclear program, to potential vulnerabilities of the United States and our allies . . . ” Mr. Pence says. “Even the inadvertent release of that kind of information could compromise our national security and the safety of our armed forces. And, frankly, having two members of our immediate family serving in the armed forces of the United States, I will never diminish the importance of protecting our nation’s secrets.”
Then he turns, calling out the Justice Department’s role in “two and a half years of a Russia hoax,” as the context for the charges against Mr. Trump. “After years of politicization,” Mr. Pence says, “it’s hard for me to believe that politics didn’t play some role in this decision.” He thinks Attorney General Merrick Garland owes it to the public to explain “what if any role he played, or his judgment played, in the decision to move forward with an unprecedented indictment of a former President of the United States.
“I think millions of Americans are deeply troubled by this indictment, particularly given the fact that Hillary Clinton engaged in very similar behavior in the 2016 campaign and did not face indictment. And we’ve got to have equal treatment under the law in this country,” Mr. Pence says. “My bottom line is this: I think the American people have lost confidence in the Department of Justice, not just because of this, but because of, really, a long series of abuses that have come to light.”
If he’s elected in 2024, Mr. Pence promises to clean house: “We’re going to give the Department of Justice a fresh start, with men and women who are respected on both sides of the aisle for their commitment to the law.
“And I’ll leave it at that.”