In what some may view as political doublespeak, former Vice President — and potential 2024 presidential candidate — Mike Pence both defended the FBI and condemned the FBI’s raid on former President Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.
The White House’s initial denial of knowing about the raid on Trump’s home, news of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s personal sign-off on the raid, reports of the FBI demanding security cameras be turned off, refusal to allow Trump attorneys to observe the search and agents rummaging through Melania Trump’s personal clothing and taking the former president’s passports have invited severe backlash.
Even political opponents former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang have spoken against what many assess as an egregious abuse of power by the Justice Department.
Seeking to thread a political needle, former Vice President Mike Pence condemned Republican calls to defund or dismantle the FBI, noting those calls were “‘just as wrong’ as Democrat-led efforts to defund the police,” according to the New York Post.
During an appearance at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Pence said: “We can hold the attorney general accountable for the decision that he made without attacking the rank-and-file law enforcement personnel at the FBI.”
Sounding like a presidential candidate, Pence continued:
“The Republican Party is the party of law and order. Our party stands with the men and women who stand on the thin blue line on 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.”
The Post reports that “several House Republicans and former Trump administration officials called for the roughly 35,000-employee FBI to be defunded or abolished.”
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) tweeted:
“I will support a complete dismantling and elimination of the democrat brown shirts known as the FBI.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tweeted:
“Impeach Merrick Garland and Defund the corrupt FBI!”
Trump’s former White House budget director Russ Vought wrote,
“By raiding Pres Trump’s home today, the FBI offered clear & convincing evidence that it is weaponized against the American people and self-government. The FBI must be broken into a thousand pieces. Investigated, defunded, abolished, rent asunder. And the GOP must wake up & fight!”
In his remarks at St. Anselm College, Pence appeared to play the role of peacemaker, criticizing the raid and noting the FBI has been “politicized,” but added that the agency should not be defunded or dismantled.
“We saw the politicization of the FBI, where during the tenure of Director [James] Comey, it was revealed that FBI agents promoting political agendas in their official capacities,” Pence said.
“I was deeply troubled to learn that a search warrant executed personal residence of a former president of the United States,” he added.
“I call on Attorney General [Merrick] Garland to give the American people full accounting of the reasons why this action was necessary. And while he’s begun to do so, not nearly enough information has been provided. … This unprecedented action does demand unprecedented transparency,”
Court filings note that federal prosecutors initiated the search because an unnamed witness claimed Trump was in possession of “highly classified materials” and was in violation of the Espionage Act of 1917.
Trump strongly disputes the charges — noting that all documents in his possession were publicly declassified before he left the Oval Office in Jan. 2021 and that neither the DOJ or FBI have produced any “classified” or “top secret” documents.
The Post notes that the “Justice Department is fighting an effort by news organizations and the group Judicial Watch to force the release of the search warrant affidavit used to justify the raid,” a move that could prove embarrassing for the Justice Department and Biden administration.
Trump has referred to the raid as a “witch hunt.”
The FBI raid on Trump’s home follows a failed and costly FBI-coordinated Russia-Trump investigation that was marred by bureau misconduct, including the falsification of court documents and overt agent bias, including that of Peter Stzrok who initially led the investigation against Trump.