Former Vice President Mike Pence has responded to special counsel Jack Smith’s latest indictment of former President Donald Trump, asserting that his onetime boss had “demanded [he] choose between him and the Constitution.”
“Today’s indictment serves as an important reminder: Anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States,” Mr. Pence said in his statement.
“I chose the Constitution and I always will,” he said.
Like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose statement has met with criticism from some conservatives for being insufficiently vigorous in defense of Mr. Trump, Mr. Pence indicated that he hadn’t read the indictment in detail.
Mr. Smith’s indictment alleges that the former president conspired to defraud the United States and to deprive citizens of the “free exercise” of constitutional rights—in this case, “the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted.”
In addition, Mr. Trump is accused of both conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding—the electoral vote certification on Jan. 6, 2021—and of attempting to obstruct, and obstructing, that official proceeding.
Mr. Pence’s alleged actions in connection with the contested 2020 election recur throughout the indictment, as do Mr. Trump’s alleged responses to those actions.
Notably, the indictment claims that when Mr. Pence told Mr. Trump that he wouldn’t proceed with the president’s plan to block electoral vote certification on Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Trump warned that he “would have to publicly criticize [Pence].”
“Upon learning of this, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff was concerned for the Vice President’s safety and alerted the head of the Vice President’s Secret Service detail,” the indictment states.
Contrary to what’s claimed in some initial posts on social media, Mr. Pence’s chief of staff was Marc Short, not Mark Meadows.
In addition, the indictment alleges that Mr. Trump told Mr. Pence that he was “too honest” when Mr. Pence said he lacked the authority as vice president to dispute results from the electoral college.
The charges mark Mr. Smith’s second indictment of the former commander-in-chief and the third set of felony charges that Mr. Trump now faces in the midst of a bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Mr. Smith previously indicted Mr. Trump on charges related to the retention of classified documents from his presidency.
In early April, Mr. Trump was arraigned in a Manhattan courtroom and charged with violating New York business law.
He has pleaded not guilty to both sets of charges.
“The former president is entitled to the presumption of innocence, but with this indictment, his candidacy means more talk about January 6 and more distractions,” Mr. Pence said in his statement.
“Our country is more important than one man. Our Constitution is more important than any one man’s career,” the statement reads.
Mr. Pence vowed that, as president, he would “restore a threshold of integrity and civility in public life so we can bring real solutions to the challenges plaguing our nation.”
The former vice president launched his bid for the White House in early June, at about the same time as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another former Trump ally who has lately distinguished himself as a prominent critic of the man who made his name as a Manhattan real estate developer.
Mr. Pence’s response to the indictment contrasted starkly with that of entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
“This is un-American & I commit to pardoning Trump for this indictment,” the biotech entrepreneur and anti-“woke” investor vowed in a statement to The Epoch Times.
Mr. DeSantis was more equivocal, saying he hadn’t reviewed the indictment in question. He didn’t commit to a pardon.
“One of the reasons our country is in decline is the politicization of the rule of law. No more excuses—I will end the weaponization of the federal government,” he wrote in a post on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter.
In another X post, Trump ally Kari Lake publicly urged the former president’s 2024 rivals on the Republican side of the aisle to leave the race and “rally around our nominee, President Donald J. Trump.”
“This is a battle that a unified Republican Party must fight. Otherwise, we will lose this country forever,” she wrote.