GREENSBORO, N.C. − Maintaining his defense of the newly indicted Donald Trump, former vice president and 2024 rival Mike Pence said Saturday that Attorney General Merrick Garland should explain publicly why his office and appointed Special Counsel Jack Smith brought charges about hoarding classified documents and obstructing justice.
“Stop hiding behind the Special Counsel and stand before the American people and explain why this indictment went forward,” Pence told a convention of the North Carolina Republican Party.
Pence, visiting North Carolina as part of a national tour to mark his formal entrance into the 2024 race, also repeated his criticism of Trump for demanding that he help him overturn the 2020 presidential election, showcasing the complicated relationship and politics between the two men at a time they’re both vying for the presidency.
In demanding that Pence throw out the electoral votes that elected President Joe Biden on Jan. 6, 2021, Trump asked his vice president to choose between him and the Constitution, Pence said, and he said he chose the Constitution.
In a jab at Trump, Pence told the North Carolina Republicans: “Anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States.”
The pro-Trump crowd reacted tepidly.
That incident is the subject of another investigation of Trump.
Pence focuses on North Carolina
Pence’s demands for answers from Garland came a day after Special Counsel Smith unsealed the unprecedented federal indictment of the former president.
Trump, who speaks at the North Carolina convention later in the day, is charged with improperly taking sensitive classified documents from the White House, then illegally obstructing the government’s efforts to retrieve them.
Aside from the comments on Trump’s indictment, Pence offered his now-standard campaign speech to the North Carolina Republicans, vowing to pursue Trump-like economic and foreign policies if elected.
Appealing to local issues, Pence noted that North Carolina is a big part of next year’s “Super Tuesday” set of primaries.
As GOP rival Ron DeSantis did on Friday, Pence pledged to change the name of North Carolina’s Fort Liberty back to Fort Bragg. Officials changed it as part of a nationwide effort to purge facility names dedicated to Confederate Civil War generals such as Braxton Bragg.
How GOP candidates are addressing Trump’s indictment
Pence is not the only Republican candidate taking a low-key approach to Trump’s second indictment.
DeSantis and Nikki Haley have criticized what they call the “weaponization” of law enforcement, but said little about the detailed allegations against Trump.
Other Republicans have been more critical of the front-running 2024 candidate.
Chris Christie, who also joined the presidential race recently, tweeted “Is this the type of conduct we want from someone who wants to be President of the United States?…We have to focus on the conduct, and the conduct is bad.”
Trump had already been indicted in a New York state court for allegations arising from hush money payments to an ex-mistress.
The Republican frontrunner for 2024 remains under investigation in two other cases: His efforts to overturn his 2020 loss in Georgia and his actions ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection against the electoral vote count.
That latter investigation has included testimony from Pence.
Published: 2023-06-10 20:25:27