Mike Pence says 'no one's above the law' but the DOJ should not indict Trump

Former President Donald Trump has received a letter informing him he's the target of a federal criminal investigation, several major news organizations reported Wednesday evening, suggesting special counsel Jack Smith may be close to indicting Trump in the classified documents case. Former Vice President Mike Pence, hours after he launched his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, told a CNN town hall in Iowa he hopes "the DOJ thinks better of it and resolves these issues without an indictment."

CNN's Dana Bash reminded Pence had just talked about his commitment to the rule of law and asked him if he was really arguing that the Justice Department should not prosecute Trump if they thing he committed a crime. He said yes.

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"Let me be clear that no one's above the law, but with regard to the unique circumstances here," Pence began, "I would just hope there would be a way for them to move forward without the dramatic and drastic and divisive step of indicting a former president of the United States. We've got to find a way to move our country forward and restore confidence in equal treatment under the law in this country."

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Pence added later that he doesn't "know the facts of the former president's case," and declined to say if he would pardon Trump, if he were elected and Trump convicted, saying he would not speak to hypotheticals. "No one is above the law" he repeated, and "the handling of classified materials is a very serious matter," but so is indicting a former president, and that would send "a terrible message to the world."

Trump's former attorney general, William Barr, had a different take on CBS This Morning, noting that Trump would not be in this situation if he had just returned the classified documents when asked.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.