Mike Pence has been making the rounds with nearly every news outlet that will have him as people wait for his anticipated announcement of a presidential primary run against his old boss. This weekend he sit down for an interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC News This Week, But rather than talking about his own potential presidential aspirations or even his latest book, the questions largely revolved around Donald Trump’s recent claims that he will be arrested this Tuesday and his calls for people to get out and protest his persecution by blue-state officials. Pence gamely fielded the questions, but if Karl was expecting him to begin trashing the Bad Orange Man as a way to boost his own chances, the co-anchor of the show was disappointed. The former veep instead criticized the attempts being made to prosecute Trump as being “politically charged” and “not what the American people want to see.” He also refused to condemn the calls for people to protest, endorsing everyone’s right to voice their opinions if they do so peacefully. Here’s part of the transcript from the beginning of the interview.
KARL: As — as I’m sure you’ve seen, Donald Trump is saying that he’s going to be indicted on Tuesday, he’s calling for people to protest, now we — we don’t know if that’s true, the Manhattan DA has didn’t say anything about it, but he’s calling for people to protest. Is that irresponsible?
PENCE: Well first let me say, I’m taken aback at the idea of indicting a former President of the United States, at a time when there’s a crime wave in New York City, that — the fact that the Manhattan DA thinks that indicting President Trump is his top priority, I think, just tells you everything you need to know about the radical left in this country. It’s a — the last five years Democrats have been dismantling tough criminal justice in the city of New York. Families are paying the price and yet this is what we get.
It just feels like a politically charged prosecution here. And I, for my part, I just feel like it’s just not what the American people want to see. We’ve got real challenges in this country today, Jon. People are facing record inflation, a crisis at our border. We have war in Eastern Europe, the American people are anxious about the future and here we go again, back into another politically charged prosecution directed at the former president of the United States, and I would just hope for better.
KARL: But he’s calling on people to protest, to come out and protest, “take our nation back.” We know what happened the last time he said that.
PENCE: Well Jon, the American people have a constitutional right to peacefully assemble — and express their…
You can watch the interview at the link above or just read the transcript, but it seemed clear that Jonathan Karl was on a fishing expedition. Right out of the gate he preemptively asks Pence if Trump’s call for protests is “irresponsible.” When Pence refused to play ball, he rephrased the question, invoking the January 6 riot. He went back three more times, finally asking if Pence personally thought people should be protesting, but Pence continued to defend the right of people to make their views known.
Karl did manage to get Pence to comment on January 6, but Pence phrased his response in a way that he probably wasn’t expecting. He described the Capitol Hill riot as “disgraceful” but immediately added that “the violence that occurred in cities throughout this country in the summer of 2020” was also “a disgrace.”
As for the upcoming prosecution of Trump (assuming it even happens), Pence once again refused to take the bait. He reminded Karl that “in America, you’re innocent until proven guilty.” He immediately followed that up by saying that’s “not always true in the national media.”
So the bottom line here is that Karl was obviously hoping to get Mike Pence to trash Donald Trump and score some early points in his anticipated primary bid. But Pence wound up defending Trump, defending freedom of speech, and even working in a shot at left-wing media bias. It was an impressive performance by Pence and he didn’t do anything to tick off a significant portion of his party’s base in the process.
Of course, on some level, Donald Trump is probably drooling at the prospect of being arrested and tossed into a battle with liberal prosecutor Alvin Bragg in Manhattan. And I’m not the only person making that assumption. At the New York Post, Mary Kay Linge has all the details of how Democrats including Nancy Pelosi and Eric Swalwell are jumping on the dogpile and calling for Trump to be hauled into court in leg irons.
What these people seem to fail to realize is that arresting Trump would probably be the best thing Democrats could do for him. When have you ever known Donald Trump to back down from a court battle, particularly if it’s one that will generate a lot of headlines? Bragg’s case looks pathetic on the merits and even if they somehow obtain a conviction, Trump would almost certainly win on appeal. And a conviction involving money laundering or hush money given to Stormy Daniels (or whatever Bragg plans to say) wouldn’t disqualify him for another term as president anyway.
Meanwhile, he will be reaping endless hours of free, earned media coverage and keeping his name in the headlines as he points to the liberal bias being deployed against him. All in all, this entire interview wound up looking like a win-win for both Pence and Trump and an empty bag for ABC news.
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