Mike Pence, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, addressed former President Donald Trump’s fourth indictment for the first time on Wednesday.
Speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit in Indianapolis, Pence condemned Trump’s conduct amid his refusal to concede the 2020 election in the last days of his administration.
“I’ve said many times I had hoped that judgment about those days would be left to the American people and to history. Such is not the case,” he said.
Pence said he believes “it’s important that we hew to the first principles and that we tell the truth to the American people,” which is: “No one is above the law.”
The former vice president then stressed that although Trump “and all those implicated are entitled to the presumption of innocence that every American enjoy,” there was no election fraud in the battleground state and that he did not have the authority to overturn the results.
“Despite what the former president and his allies have said for now more than two and a half years, and continue to insist to this very hour, the Georgia election was not stolen and I had no right to overturn the election on January 6,” he said. “It’s a hard truth.”
Pence also commended Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, for standing by his refusal to go along with Trump’s false claims of election fraud in Georgia. In a tweet Tuesday, Kemp wrote: “The 2020 election in Georgia was not stolen.”
“He said, quote, for three years, anyone with evidence of fraud has failed to come forward to provide evidence in a court of law regarding the Georgia elections,” he said.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pence’s remarks came after Trump and his top allies, including his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and a top former Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, were indicted Monday on felony charges in connection with efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.
The sweeping 41-count indictment also names lawyers John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis and Ray Smith, as well as several others. All were charged with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization law.
Trump, who faces charges of felony racketeering and numerous counts of conspiracy, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Pence broke with Trump in the days leading up to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, by refusing to comply with the then-president’s demands that he prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election win. During the attack, some rioters were overheard chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.”
Trump has attacked Pence since then, and his former vice president has publicly excoriated Trump over his baseless claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 election.
While he has called out Trump for his actions leading up to the Capitol attack, Pence has also said he’s not convinced that the former president’s actions were crimes.
“While his words were reckless, based on what I know, I am not yet convinced that they were criminal,” Pence said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” last month.