GOP 2024 presidential candidate and Former Vice President Mike Pence told NBC News “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that he does not understand why some in the Republican primary field believe former President Donald Trump will be convicted on the federal charges against him for mishandling documents after leaving the White House in 2021.
“Let me say first and foremost: I don’t know why some of my competitors in the Republican primary presume the president will be found guilty,” Pence said in a video clip of the interview, which is scheduled to air on NBC Sunday. “Look, all we know is what the president has been accused of in the indictment. We don’t know what his defense is. We don’t know if this will even go to trial. It could be subject to a motion to dismiss. We don’t know what the verdict will be of the jury.”
Pence was reacting to Todd’s question about whether he would pardon the former president if elected to the Oval Office.
Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 federal charges in a Miami courtroom on Tuesday, becoming the first current or former president criminally charged in history.
Another GOP candidate, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, sent a letter to both the Republican and Democratic candidates last week asking them to pledge to pardon Trump if they get elected.
“If President Trump is prosecuted in a manner that effectively prevents him from running, this will permanently damage public trust in our electoral process and our justice system,” Ramaswamy wrote to the other 2024 contenders, including Democrats Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and author Marianne Williamson. “Whoever among us is elected, our job of reuniting the nation will become daunting — if not impossible.”
While Ramaswamy is seeking a unified response from the candidates of both parties in the race, other GOP presidential hopefuls like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson have criticized Trump, citing the serious charges in the indictment.
“It is simply wrong for a candidate to use the pardon power of the United States, of the president in order to curry votes and in order to get an applause line. It’s just wrong. And it shouldn’t happen that way,” The Hill reported Hutchinson saying in a CNN interview.
“If you start down that path, it is unending. And so we shouldn’t be promising and holding out the fig leaf of a pardon, because that undermines our jury system. It undermines the grand jury that found probable cause … And so that really undermines the rule of law in our country that I have served my lifetime supporting, and it’s offensive to me that anyone would be holding out a pardon … under these circumstances.”
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