Mike Pence won't use an indictment to hammer Trump, backing off from even attempting to push his ex-boss out of the race if he's charged
- Mike Pence won't pressure Donald Trump to drop out of the 2024 presidential race if he is charged.
- Pence signaled he'd back off on Thursday, saying "everybody can make their own decisions."
Former Vice President Mike Pence won't call on Donald Trump to shut down his 2024 presidential run if he's indicted in a Manhattan District Court.
"Look, it's a free country. Everybody can make their own decisions," Pence told reporters Thursday, Politico reported.
A Manhattan grand jury is deliberating if Trump should be charged over hush money payments he and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, made to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
Daniels alleges she and Trump had an affair before he ran for president. Cohen has said the $130,000 payment to Daniels was an effort to block her from speaking out about it during Trump's campaign.
The Manhattan DA's office has been investigating Trump and these payments since 2019 and has shown evidence to a grand jury, signaling the former president may face felony charges soon.
That would make Trump the first former president ever to be criminally charged.
Trump's Republican rivals — including Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — could be in a tough position if Trump is indicted. The former president has previously capitalized on law enforcement actions against him to rally supporters to his side.
Pence's early response suggests that despite the obvious rupture in his relationship with the former president, he will continue to pick and choose his fights. The strategy is also emblematic of the reality that any nominee that wants to usurp Trump will eventually have to woo away some of the former president's base.
Both Pence and DeSantis previously called out the FBI's search at Mar-a-Lago, an example at times on how Trump's rivals have been forced by circumstance to embrace him.
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