Exclusive — Pence on Special Counsel Appointment in Trump Probe: Search Warrant Was ‘Divisive,’ DOJ Should Be ‘Working to Restore Credibility’

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
AP Photo/John Locher

Former Vice President Mike Pence warned the Justice Department and the newly-appointed Special Counsel in the investigation of former President Donald Trump over documents he took to Mar-a-Lago post-presidency to tread carefully in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News on Friday evening.

Pence, who is currently touring the country after the midterm election promoting his new book, So Help Me God, told Breitbart News that he was shocked the Justice Department took what he called the “divisive” step of executing a search warrant at the personal residence of Trump—and that he thinks the Justice Department should be working to restore its credibility in the wake of several recent major blows to it.

“I read the news about the appointment of a special counsel. No one is above the law, but I’m not sure it’s against the law to take bad advice from lawyers,” Pence said. “I still continue to be deeply offended that the Justice Department, after years of politicization, years that found FBI agents had actually falsified documents that the FBI used Clinton-funded opposition research to support an ongoing investigation that came to be known as the Russia Hoax. I was deeply disappointed that the Justice Department approved and actually executed a search warrant at the personal residence of the former president of the United States. I think the action was divisive and I think there were a number of steps short of that that would have been effective in resolving the issues around any classified documents that were in the president’s personal residence. I would hope that with the appointment of a Special Counsel that the Justice Department and Special Counsel give very careful consideration to next steps. This is a time for the country to heal and also I think this is a time where I think the Justice Department should be working to restore credibility, to restore public confidence after years of politicization, and I hope that that informs any decisions that are made in the months ahead.”

In a separate interview with Fox News, Pence called the appointment “troubling”—and combined these two interviews suggest that Pence deeply understands the political quagmire that President Joe Biden’s administration could open up if the Special Counsel decides to bring charges against Trump in the coming weeks and months ahead.

Pence’s warning to the Justice Department came after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced earlier on Friday that since Trump is now running for president again—and since the current president Biden has also said he intends to run again—he is appointing the Special Counsel to take over the investigation. Garland’s appointment is Jack Smith, who has a history most recently prosecuting war crimes at The Hague.

“Based on recent developments, including the former President’s announcement that he is a candidate for President in the next election, and the sitting President’s stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel,” Garland said in a statement issued by the Justice Department. “Such an appointment underscores the Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters. It also allows prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously, and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.”

Smith, in a statement issued by the Justice Department, accepted the job.

“I intend to conduct the assigned investigations, and any prosecutions that may result from them, independently and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice,” Smith said. “The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch. I will exercise independent judgement and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictate.”

Pence has unique credibility in this arena given his time as Trump’s vice president, and also because since then he has become a critic of Trump’s attempts to return to the White House. Pence told Breitbart News during this nearly half-hour-long interview that came just days after his former running mate announced a third White House bid from his Mar-a-Lago resort last week that he instead wants to see someone different than Trump be the GOP nominee in 2024.

“No one could have defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 other than Donald Trump,” Pence said. “Republican primary voters chose wisely: a candidate who could go up against the decades-old Clinton political machine and win. I was honored to run with Donald Trump and I was honored to serve with President Donald Trump. For four and a half years, he was not only my president but he was my friend. I will always be proud of the record of the Trump-Pence administration that obviously didn’t end well but I believe it is the record and the policies that the American people want to return to. As we look to the future, I think there will be better choices better fitted to the times. I think the American people as I’ve heard literally across the country and as I heard again today in California—people have been telling me for the last two years that they want to get back to the policies of the Trump-Pence administration but that they long for leadership that can unite our country around the highest ideals and also bring the kind of respect and civility that the American people show one another every day. Having been out of politics now for the last several years, you’re reminded that our politics is very divided. The American people actually find a way to get along every day—they get along pretty well. I think that they want to see leadership that is just as fiercely committed to less taxes, less regulation, more American energy, a strong military, the right to life, protect our liberties—but I think they long for leadership that will articulate those ideals that at least has the potential to unite more Americans and I think that’s what the times will call for.”

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