Mike Pence has issued his most scathing rebuke yet following Donald Trump’s third indictment, while still somehow failing to explicitly call Trump responsible.
Trump was charged Tuesday for attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He faces four counts that include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote.
Pence has a starring role in the indictment, which shows he repeatedly resisted Trump’s attempts to delay certification of votes. Pence, who is trailing badly behind Trump in the Republican presidential polls, has maintained that he was upholding the Constitution above all else.
“The first time I heard in early December somebody suggest that as vice president I might be able to decide which votes to reject and which to accept, I knew that it was false,” Pence said Wednesday at the Indiana state fair. “I dismissed it out of hand. Sadly, the president was surrounded by a group of crackpot lawyers that kept telling him what his itching ears wanted to hear.”
“I really do believe that anyone who puts themself over the Constitution should never be president of the United States,” he said. “And anyone who asks someone else to put themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States again.”
Pence reiterated that he had “no right to overturn the election,” no matter what Trump has said since he lost in 2020. “It’s contrary to what our Constitution and the laws of this country provide,” he said.
These are Pence’s strongest comments to date on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, but he still couldn’t bring himself to lay blame squarely on Trump’s shoulders. He said that Trump’s lawyers encouraged him, instead of treating Trump as an adult who should have known better the whole time.
Republicans have been hesitant to criticize Trump outright, or have backed him fully. Many members of the GOP are wary of attacking Trump lest they lose the support of his fan base. Others may actually believe that he has done nothing wrong.