Former Vice President Mike Pence called the Justice Department’s appointment of a special counsel to investigate former President Trump “very troubling,” while telling Fox News Digital that his level of cooperation with that investigation would be up to his legal team.
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday appointed former Justice Department official Jack Smith to the role of special counsel to investigate the entirety of the criminal probe into the retention of presidential records held at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Smith will also oversee the DOJ’s investigation into the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
During a sit-down interview with Fox News Digital on the sidelines of the Republican Jewish Coalition annual leadership conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Pence criticized the Justice Department for its “politicization”— especially with regard to Trump.
“The appointment of a special counsel is very troubling,” Pence told Fox News Digital. “No one is above the law, but I am not sure it’s against the law to take bad advice from your lawyers.”
Pence pointed to “years of politicization at the Justice Department,” referencing the Trump-Russia investigation. “There have been disclosed FBI agents falsifying documents, the FBI using a Clinton campaign-funded opposition research document to support two and a half years of the Russia hoax.”
Trump’s presidency was clouded by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether he and his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
After nearly two years, Mueller’s investigation, which concluded in March 2019, yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.
Pence said he was “deeply troubled” when “senior leadership at the Justice Department made the decision to execute a search warrant against the personal residence of the former president of the United States,” referring to the FBI’s unprecedented raid of Mar-a-Lago in August.
“It had never been done in history,” he said, adding that the raid “sent a divisive message across the country,” and warned that it “sent a wrong message about America around the world.”
Pence, who served on the House Judiciary Committee for 10 years as a congressman from Indiana, said he knows “how the Justice Department operates.”
“There were many more opportunities — short of executing a search warrant on the personal residence of the president of the United States to resolve the issues of classified documents that were present there.”
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