Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, former Vice President and Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence said he’s not sure Donald Trump’s actions on January 6 were criminal.
“While his words were reckless,” Pence said of his former boss’ actions before and during the pro-Trump mob’s ransacking of the Capitol, “based on what I know, I am not yet convinced that they were criminal.”
“I don’t honestly know what his intention was that day,” Pence added, and “I believe that history will hold him accountable.”
Perhaps. Earlier this week, Trump announced that he’d received a letter notifying him he was a target of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. If true, this indicates that Trump may soon face his third criminal indictment since leaving office. As my colleague Dan Friedman writes:
The letter, according to Trump, offered him a chance to appear before a grand jury meeting in Washington, DC, this week. Prosecutors typically send such letters when they are close to seeking the indictment of a target of their probe.
Trump received a separate target letter from Smith’s office in June prior to his indictment for allegedly violating the Espionage Act, along with other charges, related to his efforts to retain White House documents, many of them highly classified, at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Trump has also been charged in New York with falsifying business records to hide hush money payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels. Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis is also expected to decide soon whether to charge Trump and associates over their attempts to interfere with the 2020 election results in that state.
Pence, of course, was a key target of the January 6 mob. As rioters stormed the Capitol building, toppling barricades, smashing windows, and attacking police officers with various weapons, and the VP and his family were whisked away to a secure location, some of the attackers yelled, “Hang Pence.” Amid all this mayhem, Trump, who appeared to be aware that his vice president was in danger, tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”
He did, actually, by certifying the 2020 election results. But judging from the CNN interview, Pence doesn’t have the courage to stand up to a bully who might literally have gotten him killed.