Former Vice President Mike Pence denounced Republican calls to “defund the FBI” following last week’s raid on former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence — saying it was “just as wrong” as Democrat-led efforts to defund the police.
“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 in response to a question during an appearance at St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH.
“The Republican Party is the party of law and order. Our party stands with the men and women who stand on the thin blue line on the federal and state and local level,” Pence added.
“And these attacks on the FBI must stop. Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.”
Several House Republicans and former Trump administration officials called for the roughly 35,000-employee FBI to be defunded or abolished following the Aug. 8 raid — contending the bureau is beyond repair and citing misconduct during the investigation into whether Trump conspired with Russia in the 2016 campaign.
“I will support a complete dismantling and elimination of the democrat brown shirts known as the FBI,” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) tweeted after the search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
“Impeach Merrick Garland and Defund the corrupt FBI!” wrote Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
Trump’s former White House budget director Russ Vought wrote, “By raiding Pres Trump’s home today, the FBI offered clear & convincing evidence that it is weaponized against the American people and self-government. The FBI must be broken into a thousand pieces. Investigated, defunded, abolished, rent asunder. And the GOP must wake up & fight!”
During his Wednesday appearance, Pence said he believed that the FBI has been “politicized” and that he was “deeply troubled” by the Trump raid, but added that the agency shouldn’t be broken up.
“We saw the politicization of the FBI, where during the tenure of Director [James] Comey, it was revealed that FBI agents promoting political agendas in their official capacities,” the former veep said.
“I was deeply troubled to learn that a search warrant executed personal residence of a former president of the United States,” he added.
“I call on Attorney General [Merrick] Garland to give the American people full accounting of the reasons why this action was necessary. And while he’s begun to do so, not nearly enough information has been provided.”
Pence added that the House and Senate intelligence committees should be given fuller information if the details are too sensitive to release publicly.
“In the wake of the four years that we endured the politicization of the FBI, the American people have a right to know the basis for this. This unprecedented action does demand unprecedented transparency,” Pence said.
Federal prosecutors have said in court filings that the search dealt with “highly classified materials” and that Trump is under investigation for possibly violating three laws related to handling of records, including the harsh Espionage Act of 1917.
The Justice Department is fighting an effort by news organizations and the group Judicial Watch to force the release of the search warrant affidavit used to justify the raid.
Trump said his representatives were in talks about the status of the documents, which he said were declassified, after they were moved to Mar-a-Lago at the end of his presidency. The 45th president has also claimed the raid was unnecessary and the continuation of a long-running “witch hunt.”
Trump also reportedly is under federal investigation for his role in encouraging the appointment of rival slates of swing-state electors following his 2020 election loss.
Trump for years has raged against the FBI’s political bias in its investigation of whether he colluded with Russia, which consumed the first half of his term in office. Special counsel Robert Mueller said in April 2019 that his team found no evidence of Trump conspiring with the Kremlin.
The Russia investigation was marred by FBI misconduct, including the falsification of court documents by FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith and revelations that FBI employees leading the probe — including Peter Stzrok, who opened the investigation — trashed Trump in private messages.