By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Vice President and Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence said on Sunday he believed former President Donald Trump’s words and actions leading up to the January 6, 2021 Capitol bombings were reckless but not likely criminal.
“Although his remarks were reckless, from what I know, I’m not yet convinced that they were criminal,” Pence told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Trump said on Tuesday he had received a letter saying he was the target of a grand jury investigation into efforts to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.
The letter represented the clearest sign yet that Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, could face federal criminal charges for his efforts to stay in power after losing the election to Democrat Joe Biden.
“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Pence said of a possible indictment of Trump over the efforts to nullify the 2020 election. He said it should be left to the American public to determine whether Trump was responsible.
“His actions were reckless,” Pence said. He added, “Honestly, I don’t know what his intention was” on January 6, 2021.
Before the 2021 Capitol attacks by Trump supporters, the then-president repeatedly lambasted Pence for refusing to try to block Congress from certifying Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
Pence said Sunday that Trump was wrong to think the former vice president could overturn the election result. Some rioters chanted “hang Mike Pence” during the Capitol riots.
“I know I did my duty that day,” Pence said Sunday.
Separately, Trump was indicted in June for illegally retaining national security documents when he left office and lying to officials seeking to retrieve them. He pleaded not guilty.
He was also recently accused of falsifying business documents to conceal a silent payment to a porn star.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Andrea Ricci)