Former Vice President and 2024 presidential candidate Mike Pence told North Carolina Republicans Saturday that Attorney General Merrick Garland needs to "stop hiding behind" special counsel Jack Smith and go before the American people and explain the decision to indict former President Donald Trump for his handling of documents after leaving the White House in 2021.
"Today I'm calling on the attorney general to stand before the American people and explain why this was necessary," Pence said during a speech for the North Carolina Republican Party Saturday. "Attorney General Merrick Garland, stop hiding behind the special counsel and stand before the American people and explain why this indictment went forward. The American people deserve to know the reasons for this unprecedented action, and we also need to hear the former president's defense. Then each of us can make our own judgment."
Pence said he was "deeply troubled" that Garland, an appointee of Democratic President Joe Biden, approved Smith's findings and a south Florida grand jury's decision to indict Trump on 37 criminal charges for the way he handled documents after leaving office.
"We gather here in North Carolina after a sad day for America: the former president of the United States facing an unprecedented indictment by a Justice Department run by the current president of the United States and a potential political rival," Pence said.
Pence said he lived under the "weaponization" of federal law enforcement during his tenure as vice president under Trump and saw myriad baseless allegations leveled at his former boss without those same laws and standards being applied to Democratic rivals and others.
"I had hoped the Department of Justice would see its way clear to resolve the issues involving the former president without an indictment, and I'm deeply troubled to see this indictment move forward — its capacity to further divide our country at a time when the American people are struggling as never before and at a time when the world is becoming almost more dangerous by the hour," Pence said.
The former vice president asked the people of the country to pray for Trump and his family, as well as the nation's leaders and the "divided nation."
"As your president, if you give me that great honor to serve, I promise you I will uphold the rule of law," he said. "We will clean house at the highest levels of the Department of Justice, and we will restore the confidence of the American people in equal treatment under the law, so help me God."
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