EXCLUSIVE: Pence says prospect of Trump arrest is 'a politically charged prosecution'

He says any protests should be done peacefully.

March 18, 2023, 6:00 PM

During an exclusive sit-down interview in Iowa with ABC News "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl, former Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday the possible arrest of former President Donald Trump would be "a politically charged prosecution."

On his social media platform Saturday morning, Trump claimed that he would be arrested Tuesday in connection to the Manhattan district attorney's investigation into alleged hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election -- he also called for his supporters to protest.

A Trump spokesperson appeared to walk back his comments in a statement, saying in part there's no notification that the "prosecutor in Manhattan has decided to take his Witch-Hunt to the next level. President Trump is rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system."

Pence said he found the news indicative of the priorities of the "radical left."

"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 is, just tells you everything you need to know about the radical left in this country," Pence told Karl.

"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."

PHOTO: ABC News’ Jon Karl interviews former Vice President Mike Pence on “This Week.”
ABC News’ Jon Karl interviews former Vice President Mike Pence on “This Week.”
ABC News

Pence did not disavow Trump's call for protests, citing that "the American people have a constitutional right to peaceably assemble" though he stressed that any demonstration should occur "peacefully and in a lawful manner."

"The frustration the American people feel about what they sense is a two tier justice system in this country, I think -- I think is well founded but -- I -- and -- I believe that people understand that if they give voice to this, if this occurs on Tuesday, that they need to do so peacefully and in a lawful manner. That the violence that occurred on January 6, the violence that occurred in cities throughout this country in the summer of 2020 was a disgrace. The American people won't tolerate it and those that engage in that kind of violence should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," said Pence.

Top Republicans have joined Trump in outrage.

In a tweet, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called the possible arrest "an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump."

McCarthy added that he will be directing relevant sub-committees "to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions."

Former Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump's call for protest is "reckless" in a tweeted statement.

"He cannot hide from his violations of the law, disrespect for our elections and incitements to violence," said Pelosi.

The Manhattan district attorney's office has no comment. ABC News has not verified Trump's claims.

Pence has been mulling a bid for the White House, though his exact timeline has been unclear. He's said that he and his family hope to come to a decision by the spring.

The full interview with Pence will air Sunday morning on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

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