Mike Pence Says Trump Conviction Sends a ‘Terrible Message’ and Divides Americans

Mike Pence Says Trump Conviction Sends a ‘Terrible Message’ and Divides Americans
(Left) Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition's Annual Leadership Summit at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas in Las Vegas on Oct. 28, 2023. (Right) Republican presidential candidate former Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition's Annual Leadership Summit at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas in Las Vegas on Oct. 28, 2023. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday made his first public comments on the guilty verdict handed down to former President Donald Trump earlier in the week, joining a growing list of Republicans—including those that have been critical of the former president—in condemning the conviction as a political hit job.

“The conviction of former President Trump on politically motivated charges is an outrage and disservice to the nation,” Mr. Pence told Fox News on May 31, a day after a jury found the former president guilty of falsifying business records to hide non-disclosure payments, supposedly to sway the 2016 election in which he was a candidate and Mr. Pence his running mate.

“No one is above the law, but our courts must not become a tool to be used against political opponents,” Mr. Pence continued. “To millions of Americans, this was nothing more than a political prosecution driven by a Manhattan DA who ran for office on a pledge to indict the former president and this conviction undermines confidence in our system of justice.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged President Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in order to conceal an alleged $130,000 non-disclosure payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Mr. Bragg alleged that the records fraud was used to cover up or commit another underlying crime, namely a conspiracy to promote or prevent an election by “unlawful means.”

The allegation that the records fraud was committed in furtherance of the underlying crime is how Mr. Bragg elevated what would normally have been a misdemeanor into a felony. A number of legal experts, including retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, have said this legal maneuver was unsound.

Mr. Bragg has faced numerous allegations of pushing a politically-motivated prosecution in bringing the charges against President Trump, including by the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee, which accused him of undermining the notion of blind justice. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said recently that Mr. Bragg’s “unprecedented” prosecution of led to an erosion of public faith in America’s justice system and was “dangerous” for its stability.

Mr. Pence struck a similar tone in his criticism on Friday, saying that the Trump conviction drove yet another wedge between Americans on two sides of a political and cultural divide.

“This conviction also sends a terrible message to the wider world about the American justice system and only further divides us at a time when the American people are struggling under the failed policies of the Biden administration at home and abroad,” Mr. Pence said.

The former vice president expressed confidence that the conviction wouldn’t stand.

“Having been convicted in a court of law, the former president has every right to appeal this conviction and I trust it will be overturned on appeal in a manner that will restore public confidence in our system of justice and equal treatment under the law,” Mr. Pence said.

With his remarks, Mr. Pence joined a growing list of Republicans who have spoken critically about the Trump conviction.

The Appeal

President Trump and his legal team have vowed to appeal the verdict, though some legal experts have said that the appeals process could drag out beyond the November election, which would mean that the label of a convicted felon could stick to the former president through Election Day, potentially undermining his chances at victory.

Amid widespread allegations that the trial was politically driven and riddled with bias, there have even been some calls for the Supreme Court to intervene at an earlier stage, before the state appeals process is exhausted. For instance, the House speaker said recently that the Supreme Court should “step in” and overturn the conviction, with the speaker arguing that the circumstances of the case have dangerously undermined confidence in the judicial system.

Several legal experts told The Epoch Times that, in general, all possible appeals in the New York state court system must first be exhausted before an appeal ends up before the Supreme Court. However, there may be a way to accelerate the process if the Trump legal team bypasses the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court and directly asks the highest court in the state, the New York Court of Appeals, to hear an expedited appeal.

It’s a plan that Mr. Dershowitz has endorsed, arguing that this could be a way for the Trump legal team to get its appeal heard by the U.S. Supreme Court before the November election and so give the highest court in the land an opportunity to weigh in on the matter and potentially restore a sense of fairness to the process.

Short of a successful appeal, President Trump could now be facing such penalties as jail time, probation, or fines.

From The Epoch Times

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