GREENSBORO, North Carolina — Continuing his defense of newly indicted Donald Trump, former Vice President and 2024 rival Mike Pence said Saturday that Attorney General Merrick Garland should publicly explain why his office and special counsel appointee Jack Smith brought charges of hoarding classified documents and obstructing justice. .
“Stop hiding behind the special advocate and stand up before the American people and explain why this indictment was brought forward,” Pence said at a Republican Party convention in North Carolina.
Pence, visiting North Carolina as part of a nationwide tour to mark his official entry into the 2024 race, also reiterated his criticism of Trump for demanding he help nullify the presidential election in 2020, showing the complicated relationship and politics between the two men at a time when they are both vying for the presidency.
By demanding that Pence reject the electoral votes that elected President Joe Biden on January 6, 2021, Trump asked his vice president to choose between him and the Constitution, Pence said, and he said he chose the Constitution.
In a jab at Trump, Pence told Republicans in North Carolina, “Anyone who puts himself above the Constitution should never be President of the United States.”
The pro-Trump crowd reacted lukewarm.
This incident is the subject of another Trump investigation.
Pence focuses on North Carolina
Pence’s demands for Garland’s answers came a day after Special Counsel Smith unsealed the former president’s unprecedented federal indictment.
Trump, who speaks at the North Carolina convention later today, is accused of improperly taking sensitive classified White House documents and then unlawfully obstructing government efforts to retrieve them. .
Along with comments on Trump’s indictment, Pence offered his now-standard campaign speech to Republicans in North Carolina, promising to pursue Trump-style economic and foreign policies if elected.
Appealing to local issues, Pence noted that North Carolina is a big part of next year’s “Super Tuesday” series of primaries.
As his GOP rival Ron DeSantis did on Friday, Pence pledged to change the name of Fort Liberty in North Carolina to Fort Bragg. Officials changed it as part of a national effort to purge the names of facilities dedicated to Confederate Civil War generals such as Braxton Bragg.
How GOP candidates are approaching Trump’s indictment
Pence isn’t the only Republican candidate to take a low-key approach to Trump’s second indictment.
DeSantis and Nikki Haley have criticized what they call the “militarization” of law enforcement, but said little about the detailed allegations against Trump.
Other Republicans have been more critical of the top candidate for 2024.
Chris Christie, who recently joined the presidential race, tweeted: “Is this the type of drive we expect from someone who wants to be President of the United States?… We have to focus on the drive, and the conduct is bad. “
Trump had previously been charged in New York state court over allegations stemming from silent money payments to an ex-mistress.
The 2024 Republican frontrunner remains under investigation in two other matters: his efforts to overturn his 2020 loss in Georgia and his actions before the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising against the vote count.
This latest investigation included Pence’s testimony.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pence denounces federal indictment of Donald Trump in North Carolina