BY JULIA MUELLER - 06/14/23 8:14 PM ET
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Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is running for the White House in 2024, on Wednesday said any talk of pardoning former President Trump if he were to be convicted on the federal criminal charges he faces in the classified documents case is “premature.”
“Well, first off, these are serious charges. And as I said, I can’t defend what’s been alleged, but the president does deserve to make his defense. And I would say to each one of you, look, I’ve been a former governor. I’ve actually granted pardons to people,” Pence said on the Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, when asked whether he would pardon the former president.
“And I take the pardon authority very seriously. It’s an enormously important power of someone in an executive position. And I just think it’s premature to have any conversation about that right now,” Pence said.
Pence, who joined Trump’s ticket in 2016, is now running against the former president in the 2024 Republican primary race after the pair lost their White House reelection bid in 2020.
Trump pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to 37 counts related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents after his term in the White House ended. He has not been convicted on any charges.
Fellow GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has promised that if he wins the Oval Office he will pardon Trump.
Nikki Haley, Trump’s former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations who is also in the 2024 race, later said she’s “inclined in favor of a pardon” if Trump were to be convicted of federal charges, but also suggested it was premature and that “we all need to let this trial play out.”
Pence has said he “can’t defend” the “very serious allegations” Trump faces, but has also said that it’s “hard for me to believe that politics did not play some role” in the indictment, a sentiment he echoed during the Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show interview.
Earlier this month, Pence said he hoped the Department of Justice wouldn’t move forward with the indictment — and last week, he called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to publicly justify the “unprecedented indictment.”
Pressed during the Wednesday interview on why he won’t promise a pardon despite his comments that the case against Trump might be politically motivated, Pence again said it’s too early to make a judgement.
“I think any conclusion by anyone running for presidency of the United States that would pre-judge the facts in this case or pre-judge the investigation into President Biden or his family is premature,” Pence said, adding, “Let’s let the process play out.”
One of the hosts again pressed Pence, arguing he was dodging the question.
“I don’t think you know what the president’s defense is, do you? I mean, what are the facts? I mean, look, we either believe in our judicial process in this country or we don’t. We either stand by the rule of law or we don’t,” Pence said.