“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Pence said Tuesday on “Elizabeth Vargas Reports,” adding he’s “not convinced” that Trump acting on the advice of “crank lawyers” amounts to criminality.
“My hope is that a judgment about the president’s actions on Jan. 6 would be left to the American people,” Pence said. “History will hold him to account for his actions that day.”
Trump said Tuesday on his Truth Social platform that he was informed by the Justice Department he is a target in the special counsel investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Special counsel Jack Smith, whose office is leading the investigation, gave Trump a letter giving him “a very short 4 days to report to the Grand Jury,” the former president claimed.
A number of people, including Pence, have been questioned by Smith’s team as they look into efforts by Trump and his associates to block the transfer of power to President Joe Biden after the 2020 election in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 riot.
Prosecutors have questioned Pence, former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and local election officials in states including Michigan and New Mexico.
Pence has repeatedly said he did not have constitutional authority to overturn the votes.
“President Trump was wrong then, he’s wrong now,” Pence said.
The former vice president is among many Republicans who have expressed concern about the Justice Department filing criminal charges against a leading political candidate. Trump is the presumed front-runner for the GOP nomination, leading national polling averages by 33 points over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Pence declined to say whether he would support Trump if he is the eventual nominee. A loyalty pledge is among the requirements for the first primary debate next month in Milwaukee.
“I’m running because I believe that we can win the Republican nomination, and I think different times call for different leadership,” Pence said. “I have every confidence that Republican primary voters are going to choose a new standard bearer for our party.”
Candidates must also have 40,000 unique donors, a threshold Pence has not yet met.
“We’re on a good trajectory to get there,” Pence said. “I’m confident we’ll be on that stage.”
NewsNation digital producer Cassie Buchman contributed to this report.