Pence says he hopes Trump isn’t indicted over January 6

Former Vice President Mike Pence said Monday on Fox News that he hopes former President Donald Trump is not indicted over the events of January 6, 2021, when some of his supporters breached the Capitol building briefly before being driven out by police.

Pence said,

But let me be very clear about this point. Congress has no formal role in Justice Department decisions, so they can make recommendations today. But when it comes to the Justice Department’s decision about about about bringing charges in the future, I would hope that they would not bring charges against the former president. I don’t look, I as I wrote in my book, I think the president’s actions and words on January 6 were reckless. But I don’t know that it’s criminal to take bad advice from lawyers, and so I hope the Justice Department is clear.

Host Dana Perino suggested that there could be criminal referrals of the lawyers who advised Trump as well as for Trump himself.

Pence then continued,

Well, but I want to say, I hope the Justice Department understands the magnitude of the very idea of indicting a former president of the United States. I think that would be terribly divisive in the country at a time when the American people want to see us heal. At this time of year, we’re all thinking about the most important things in our lives, our faith, our family. And my hope is the Justice Department will think very carefully.

Criminal referral gives DOJ justification to indict Trump

Pence was referring to the January 6 committee’s action to send a criminal referral against Trump to the Justice Department on Monday, recommending that the DOJ pursue criminal charges against him.

The sham committee, which only has Trump-haters on it, voted unanimously to send the criminal referral on four grounds: obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the government, making knowingly and willfully materially false statements to the federal government, and inciting or assisting an insurrection.

It would be the first time a former president was ever indicted for a crime, and I’m sure the January 6 committee haters are hoping to make history even if they are unlikely to make any crime stick to Trump.

For them, it’s really not about whether Trump can be proven guilty of any wrongdoing. In their minds, he’s guilty, and if they can’t prove it in court, they can at least humiliate him like they did when they impeached him twice even though they knew they couldn’t convict him in the Senate.

Congress has no authority

A Politico op-ed admitted that the committee’s criminal referral will not influence whether the DOJ ultimately decides to charge Trump with a crime, at least in the opinion of former DOJ officials.

“I’m sure the Attorney General will welcome any new evidence the committee sends over, but the authority to indict rests with the executive branch, not Congress,” University of Baltimore Law School Dean Ronald Weich, a former DOJ liaison to Congress, said. “The decision of whether to bring criminal charges is solely within the purview of the Justice Department. I expect DOJ to respond courteously to the committee, but the referral will not change the outcome.”

“I think a referral will have zero practical effect on what DOJ does,” former Washington federal public corruption prosecutor Randall Eliason said. “They are already investigating, and they’re not going to decide whether or not to charge based on whether they got a referral from Congress.”

Garland rebuffs lawmakers

Last month Attorney General Merrick Garland said the DOJ wanted to see the evidence the committee had gathered, but did not ask for any conclusions lawmakers have drawn from that evidence.

Clearly, the DOJ will make its own conclusions. After all, it will humiliate them if they bring charges against Trump but can’t get a conviction.

They will look political, because they will have been, and their credibility will fall even further with the public.