Former Vice President Mike Pence said he’s “not yet convinced” that Donald Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021, were criminal, as the former president faces a potential indictment over his actions that day.
“I really do hope it doesn’t come to that,” Pence told CNN’s Dana Bash in an interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union.”
“In one town hall after another, across New Hampshire, I heard a deep concern … about the unequal treatment of the law, and I think one more indictment against the former president will only contribute to that sense among the American people,” Pence said. “I would rather that these issues and the judgment about his conduct on January 6 be left to the American people in the upcoming primaries, and I’ll leave it at that.”
Pence, who bucked pressure from Trump when he certified the results of the 2020 election, said Trump’s actions on January 6 were reckless but added he believed history would hold Trump accountable.
Bash asked Pence about a recent radio interview in which Trump spoke of his “passionate” supporters and how they could react to his potential imprisonment, saying, “I think it’s a very dangerous thing to even talk about.”
He told Bash that the rhetoric from Trump “doesn’t worry me, because I have more confidence in the American people.”
“I would say not just the majority, but virtually everyone in our movement are the kind of Americans who love this country, who are patriotic, who are law-and-order people, who would never have done anything like that there or anywhere else,” he said.
Reminded by Bash that Pence was the subject of calls for his hanging during the Capitol riot, the former vice president maintained his stance.
“The people who rallied behind our cause in 2016 and 2020 are the most God-fearing, law-abiding, patriotic people in this country,” he said.
Pivoting from Trump and to argue that people are concerned about “unequal treatment under the law,” Pence pointed to whistleblowers who claimed the IRS recommended charging President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden with far more serious crimes than what he agreed to plead guilty to and alleged political interference in the investigation. Pence vowed to “clean house” among the Department of Justice’s top ranks if he’s elected president.
Pressed on whether he thinks his former boss should be indicted if the DOJ has evidence that he committed a crime, Pence said, “Let me be very clear: President Trump was wrong on that day. And he’s still wrong in asserting that I had the right to overturn the election.”
“But … criminal charges have everything to do with intent, what the president’s state of mind was. And I don’t honestly know what his intention was that day,” the former vice president said.
This story has been updated with additional reaction.
CNN’s Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report.