Former Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of conducting a “political prosecution” against former President Donald Trump.
Mr Pence spoke out in defense of his former boss after Mr Trump claimed he would be arrested on Tuesday and urged his supporters to protest his forthcoming indictment over alleged hush money payments in 2016.
“Well, how many Americans do I just stunned,” Mr. Pence told SiriusXM’s Breitbart News and host Matt Boyle on Saturday.
“You literally have a Democratic party that has literally dismantled the criminal justice system in this city, that has subverted the NYPD, and the Manhattan DA’s office is saying that’s their top priority?” he said. “It smacks of the kind of political persecution we endured in the days of the Russia hoax and the whole phone call impeachment.”
Mr. Pence, a potential opponent of Mr. Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has heavily criticized the former president for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol in recent public statements.
But Mr. Pence’s response to Mr. Trump’s possible indictment in Manhattan signals his row with the former president may have its limits.
Earlier this week, Mr Pence told reporters he would not ask Mr Trump to withdraw from the 2024 race if he were charged.
“Look, it’s a free country. Everyone can make their own decisions,” Mr Pence said, according to Politico.
In a post on Truth Social on Saturday, the former president cited leaked information from the Manhattan Attorney’s Office that signaled he would be arrested in the coming days.
A spokesman for Mr Bragg declined to comment.
A spokesman for Mr. Trump said the former president had received no formal notification from prosecutors of an impending arrest “other than illegal leaks from the Justice Department and the Attorney’s Office to NBC and other fake news networks.”
“President Trump is right to assert his innocence and arming our injustice system,” the Washington Times spokesman said.
A Manhattan grand jury has heard witnesses as part of a multi-year probe into payments Trump allegedly made through his attorney Michael Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal in 2016.
Mr Cohen, who pleaded guilty to violating the Campaign Finance Act and lying to Congress, said the payouts were to buy her silence about past relationships with Mr Trump.
Mr Trump has denied the allegations, calling the investigation a “witch hunt”.
Ms Daniels has been meeting with prosecutors in recent weeks. Two of Mr Trump’s former advisers – former political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokeswoman Hope Hicks – have also met with prosecutors.
Police officers in New York have taken precautions against a possible indictment against Mr. Trump.
Mr. Bragg has not publicly announced a timeframe for the grand jury to complete its work on the case or a possible vote on whether to indict Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump would be the first former President in US history to face indictment if one were to be indicted.
Mr Pence’s reaction on Saturday echoed that of other prominent figures in the GOP.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy accused Mr Bragg of an “outrageous abuse of power” and called on Congress to immediately investigate possible election interference by “politically motivated law enforcement actions” against Mr Trump.
“Here we are again – an outrageous abuse of power by a radical prosecutor who is letting violent criminals free while pursuing political revenge on President Trump,” McCarthy wrote in a Twitter post Saturday. “I direct the relevant committees to immediately investigate whether federal funds are being used to undermine our democracy by interfering with elections with politically motivated law enforcement.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, who led the first impeachment trial against Mr Trump, accused Mr McCarthy of trying to shield the former president from accountability.
“Kevin McCarthy once again plays the role of criminal defense attorney to shield Trump from responsibility,” the California Democrat wrote on Twitter. “Without considering the consequences for the country, he stirs the pot and demands an investigation by the investigators.”
“It’s all part of Trump’s playbook,” he wrote.
Elise Stefanik, Chair of the House of Representatives Conference of Republicans, a New York Republican, warned that the impeachment would herald an ominous new era in American politics.
“This is un-American and the radical left has hit a dangerous new low for third world countries,” Ms. Stefanik said. “What these corrupt leftist prosecutors like Alvin Bragg and their socialist allies fail to understand is that the America First Patriots have never been more vigorous in exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully organize and vote at the ballot box to save our great republic .”
Other Republican presidential hopefuls have also come to Mr Trump’s defense.
Vivek Ramaswamy, who is challenging Mr Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, said a “Trump impeachment would be a national disaster”.
“It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals,” Ramaswamy wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “This will mark a dark moment in American history and erode public confidence in our electoral system itself. I urge the Manhattan District Attorney to reconsider this action and set aside partisan politics in favor of preserving our constitutional republic.”
Source : www.washingtontimes.com