Pence would give ‘due consideration’ to testifying before House Jan. 6 panel
Former Vice President Mike Pence implored fellow Republicans on Wednesday to stop lashing out at the FBI over the search of former President Trump’s Florida home, and denounced calls by some of Trump’s allies to defund the FBI, saying that was “just as wrong” as a push by progressive activists to shift money from police departments.
Pence also said he would give “due consideration” if asked to testify before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
His pleas for restraint come as law enforcement officials warn of an escalation in violent threats targeting federal agents and government facilities since FBI agents searched the ex-president’s Mar-a-Lago estate last week. The search was part of the Justice Department’s investigation into the discovery that classified White House records had been recovered from the estate earlier this year.
The FBI wouldn’t have broken hundreds of years of precedent over a misplaced memo, one expert said. A look at what the Justice Department may have sought and what it may have found at Trump’s home.
While speaking in New Hampshire, Pence was asked what he thought when he heard about the FBI search of Trump’s home. Pence, who like Trump is considering a 2024 presidential bid, said he had been troubled by what he called the politicization of the FBI. He also said the Justice Department and Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland should be more forthcoming about what led authorities to conduct the search.
But Trump’s former vice president also had a message for the GOP.
“I also want to remind my fellow Republicans: We can hold the attorney general accountable for the decision he made without attacking the rank-and-file law enforcement personnel at the FBI,” he said at an event at St. Anselm College.
Trump said Monday that his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida was raided by federal agents.
“The Republican Party is the party of law and order,” Pence continued. “Our party stands with the men and women who stand on the thin blue line at the federal and state and local level, and these attacks on the FBI must stop. Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.”
Federal and private monitors of extremism have warned that a growing number of Trump supporters seem ready to strike back against the FBI or others who, they believe, go too far in investigating the former president.
The FBI director has strong words for Trump supporters who have used violent rhetoric since the agency’s search of the ex-president’s Mar-a-Lago home.
In Ohio, a man in body armor armed with an assault rifle and a nail gun was shot and killed after trying to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati office. In Pennsylvania, a man was arrested after posting death threats against agents on social media.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray has said that threats to agents and the Justice Department are “deplorable and dangerous.” The FBI has warned its agents to take precautions, citing an increase in social media threats. But some GOP lawmakers and others are demanding that FBI be defunded, even dismantled.
The Justice Department also said the affidavit includes “highly sensitive information about witnesses, including witnesses interviewed by the government.”
Pence, who has been trying to distance himself from his ex-boss, prefaced his response by saying, “Look, it’s fairly well known that President Trump and I have had our differences.” Still, Pence frequently cites the accomplishments of the “Trump-Pence administration,” hoping that he can appeal to voters who may have supported their policies but are put off by Trump’s behavior.
The pair’s paths diverged on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to stop Congress’ formal certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory over Trump. Trump denounced his vice president for refusing to object or delay the certification — something Pence had no power to do. A makeshift gallows was constructed on the National Mall, and people who broke into the Capitol chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!”
Pence had previously refused to say whether he would engage with the House committee investigating the insurrection if the panel requested his testimony. On Wednesday, he said he would consider it.
The FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate sent reverberations across the country, even before court papers were unsealed Friday.
“If there was an invitation to participate, I would consider it,” Pence said, adding he would first reflect “on the unique role” he was serving as vice president.
“It would be unprecedented in history for a vice president to be summoned to testify on Capitol Hill, but as I said, I don’t want to prejudge,” he said. “If ever any formal invitation was rendered to us, we’d give it due consideration.”
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