Former Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of carrying out a “political prosecution” against former President Donald Trump.
Mr. Pence spoke out in defense of his former boss after Mr. Trump claimed that he will be arrested on Tuesday and called for his supporters to protest his impending indictment over alleged hush money payments in 2016.
“Well, like many Americans, I’m just, I’m taken aback,” Mr. Pence told SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Saturday and host Matt Boyle.
“You have literally a Democratic party that’s literally dismantled the criminal justice system in that city, undercut the NYPD, and this is what the Manhattan DA says is their top priority?” he said. “It reeks of the kind of political prosecution that we endured back in the days of the Russia hoax and the whole impeachment over a phone call.”
Mr. Pence, a potential opponent of Mr. Trump’s for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has been highly critical of the former president for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol in recent public statements.
But Mr. Pence’s response to Mr. Trump’s potential indictment in Manhattan signals that his row with the former president may have its bounds.
Earlier this week, Mr. Pence told reporters that he would not call for Mr. Trump to bow out of the 2024 race if he is indicted.
“Look, it’s a free country. Everybody 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 district attorney’s office signaling that he would be arrested in the coming days.
A spokesperson for Mr. Bragg declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Mr. Trump said the former president has received no formal notification from prosecutors of an impending arrest “other than illegal leaks from the Justice Dept. and the DA’s office, to NBC and other fake news carriers.”
“President Trump is rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system,” the spokesperson told The Washington Times.
A Manhattan grand jury has been hearing from witnesses as part of a multi-year investigation into payments Mr. Trump allegedly made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal in 2016 through his lawyer Michael Cohen.
Mr. Cohen, who plead guilty to campaign finance law violations and for lying to Congress, said the payouts were to buy their silence about previous relations with Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump has denied the allegations and called the probe a “witch hunt.”
Ms. Daniels has met with prosecutors in recent weeks. Two former aides to Mr. Trump - former political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokesperson Hope Hicks - have also met with prosecutors.
Law enforcement officials in New York have been making security preparations for a possible indictment of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Bragg has made not publicly announced a timeframe for the grand jury to wrap up its work on the case or any potential vote on whether to indict Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump would become the first former president in U.S. history to face an indictment if one should occur.
Mr. Pence’s reaction on Saturday mirrors that of other prominent figures in the GOP.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy accused Mr. Bragg of “an outrageous abuse of power” and called for congress to immediately investigate potential election interference carried out through “politically motivated prosecutions” targeting Mr. Trump.
“Here we go again — an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump,” Mr. McCarthy wrote in a Twitter post on Saturday. “I’m directing relevant committees to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, who led the first impeachment trial against Mr. Trump, accused Mr. McCarthy of attempting to shield the former president from accountability.
“Kevin McCarthy once again playing the part of criminal defense counsel to shield Trump from accountability,” the California Democrat wrote on Twitter. “Heedless of the consequences to the country, he stirs the pot, and calls for an investigation of the investigators.”
“It’s all part of Trump’s playbook,” he wrote.
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, New York Republican, warned that the indictment would usher in an ominous new era in American politics.
“This is unAmerican and the radical Left has reached a dangerous new low of Third World countries,” Ms. Stefanik said. “What these corrupt Leftist prosecutors like Alvin Bragg and their Socialist allies fail to understand is that America First Patriots have never been so energized to exercise 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 indictment would be a national disaster.”
“It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals,” Mr. Ramaswamy wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “This will mark a dark moment in American history and will undermine public trust in our electoral system itself. I call on the Manhattan District Attorney to reconsider this action and to put aside partisan politics in service of preserving our Constitutional republic.”
• Joseph Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.