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Pence Wouldn’t Pardon Jan. 6 Defendants, Says Trump Indictment Would Send ‘Terrible Message’

Former Vice President Mike Pence told a CNN town hall in Des Moines, Iowa on June 7 that he will not be granting pardons to any of the individuals who have been charged for taking part in the Jan. 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol.

Pence officially entered the 2024 presidential race on Wednesday with a video announcement on Twitter in which he criticized President Joe Biden and the “radical left” for weakening the United States both at home and abroad.

Speaking at the town hall in Iowa, the former vice president sought to distance himself from former President Donald Trump on an array of issues including the events of Jan. 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and government spending.

Trump announced he is running for president again in November.

Asked on Wednesday whether he would pardon any of the individuals who were arrested and charged over the Jan. 6 breach—as Trump has suggested he will—Pence made it clear he would not.

“On the day of Jan. 6, I issued a tweet demanding that people leave the Capitol and end the violence,” Pence said. “I said that those that failed to do that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and I continue to believe that today.”

“We cannot ever allow what happened on January 6 to happen again in the heart of our democracy,” he continued. “I’ll stand by the decisions and the due process of court in our laws. I have no interest or no intention of pardoning those that assaulted police officers or vandalized our Capitol. They need to be answerable to the law.”

Trump to Pardon ‘Many’

In contrast, Trump said during his own CNN town hall in New Hampshire in May that he would be “inclined to pardon many” of the individuals charged with crimes during the Jan. 6 breach.

More than 1,000 individuals across nearly all 50 states have been charged in connection with the breach of the Capitol building, according to the Department of Justice, including nearly 350 people who were charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

“I can’t say for every single one because a couple of them, probably, they got out of control,” Trump said. “My answer is I am most likely—if I get in, I will most likely—I would say it will be a large portion of them. And it’ll be very early on. And they’re living in hell right now,” he added.

DeSantis at South Carolina
Florida governor and 2024 presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign stop at the Greenville Convention Center in Greenville, S.C., on June 2, 2023. (Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump’s plans for many of the Jan. 6 defendants are similar to those of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is also running for president in 2024.

The Republican governor told the “Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” last month that the DOJ and the FBI have become “weaponized.”

“Some of it is the FBI going after parents, going to school board meetings. Some of it’s how they treat a pro-life demonstrator, how they don’t go after people that are attacking pro-lifers,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis Vows to Be ‘Aggressive’ Issuing Pardons

“And so what I’m going to do is—I’m going to do on day one—I will have folks that will get together and look at all these cases, who are people who are victims of weaponization or political targeting, and we will be aggressive at issuing pardons,” he said, although he acknowledged that in some cases, some individuals “may have a technical violation of the law.”

While Pence’s approach to a number of current issues differed drastically from Trump’s, he did throw his support behind the former president when it came to the probe into his alleged mishandling of classified documents.

Pence, who was reportedly cleared of any wrongdoing last week in his own misclassified documents case, noted that while “no one is above the law,” the DOJ could resolve its probe into Trump without issuing an indictment.

“I don’t know the facts of the former president’s case but what we’ve got to have in this country is equal treatment under the law,” Pence said. “I was very troubled last year when for the first time in history there was a search warrant executed at the home of a former president of the United States.”

“There had to have been dozens of ways that could have been handled other than that kind of behavior,” Pence said, adding that an indictment against Trump would prove to be “divisive” and “would send a terrible message to the wider world.”

Pence joins fellow Republicans including former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy in announcing a 2024 White House bid.

A June 7 poll by FiveThirtyEight shows Trump at 53.8 percent, DeSantis at 21.2 percent, and Pence at 5.4 percent.

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