Former vice president Mike Pence pushed back Wednesday against those in his party who have called to “defund the FBI” after the bureau’s search of former president Donald Trump’s residence in Florida last week.
But Pence said the attacks on the FBI are unwarranted.
“I also want to remind my fellow Republicans we can hold the attorney general accountable for the decision that he made without attacking the rank-and-file law enforcement personnel at the FBI,” Pence said, asserting that “the Republican Party is the party of law and order.”
“These attacks on the FBI must stop,” Pence said to applause. “Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.”
Shortly after Pence’s remarks, Trump posted an American Spectator piece on Truth Social, his social media network, that carried the headline, “The Fascist Bureau of Investigation.” The piece by Jeffrey Lord argued that “a once-honorable organization” had been corrupted. “The FBI has become the Fascist Bureau of Investigation, a government agency weaponized against American citizens it doesn’t like,” Lord wrote.
The court-authorized search produced multiple classified documents that Trump had taken from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Fla. Since the search, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) have led the call to “defund the FBI,” with Greene pushing T-shirts with the phrase.
Last Thursday, an armed man wearing body armor tried to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati field office, sparking an hours-long standoff that ended when he was fatally shot after firing at officers, authorities said.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, who was nominated by Trump and confirmed by all Senate Republicans in 2017, said in a Friday statement that attacks on the FBI “are a grave disservice to the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect others.”
“Violence and threats against law enforcement, including the FBI, are dangerous and should be deeply concerning to all Americans,” he said.
During a question-and-answer session, Pence was asked whether he would testify before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“If there was an invitation to participate, I would consider it,” Pence said. “But you’ve heard me mention the Constitution a few times this morning. Under the Constitution, we have three coequal branches of government. Any invitation that would be directed at me, I would have to reflect on the unique role that I was serving then as vice president.”
Pence said that it would be “unprecedented in history for a vice president to be summoned to testify on Capitol Hill.”
“But I don’t want to prejudge,” he said. “So if there were ever any formal invitation to us, it would get due consideration.”
In July, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told the Wall Street Journal that the committee was considering asking Trump to testify and may request a written interview with Pence or issue a subpoena for him to testify.
The committee declined to comment Wednesday.
The Jan. 6 insurrection
Congressional hearings: The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol held a series of high-profile hearings to share its findings with the U.S. public. What was likely to be the panel’s final public hearing has been postponed because of Hurricane Ian. Here’s a guide to the biggest hearing moments so far.
Will there be charges? The committee could make criminal referrals of former president Donald Trump over his role in the attack, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in an interview.
The riot: On Jan. 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. Five people died on that day or in the immediate aftermath, and 140 police officers were assaulted.
Inside the siege: During the rampage, rioters came perilously close to penetrating the inner sanctums of the building while lawmakers were still there, including former vice president Mike Pence. The Washington Post examined text messages, photos and videos to create a video timeline of what happened on Jan. 6.