Mike Pence says ‘country more important than one man’ after new Donald Trump charges

File: Mike Pence and Donald Trump speak during election night in 2020  (AFP via Getty Images)
File: Mike Pence and Donald Trump speak during election night in 2020 (AFP via Getty Images)

Former US vice president Mike Pence has made his strongest condemnation of Donald Trump following his former boss’s indictment for attempting to overturn the result of the 2020 election.

In the third criminal case against him, Mr Trump has been charged by the US Justice Department over schemes to subvert the transfer of power and keep him in office despite his loss to Joe Biden.

Mr Pence, who served as Vice-President under Trump and is now running against him in 2024, said the charges were a reminder that “anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States".

Criticising the former president’s actions surrounding the January 6 2021 riot at the US Capitol, which forced him to hide as some in the mob chanted, “Hang Mike Pence", he said Mr Trump demanded a choice between the president and the Constitution.

He said: "Our country is more important than one man. Our constitution is more important than any one man’s career."

The charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States government and witness tampering.

Federal prosecutors said in the indictment he knew his lies about his loss in the 2020 presidential election were false and that he spread lies to create an “intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger" and “erode public faith in the administration of the election".

Special Counsel Jack Smith unveiling the charges against Donald Trump on Tuesday (Getty Images)
Special Counsel Jack Smith unveiling the charges against Donald Trump on Tuesday (Getty Images)

The indictment produces new evidence not published in a highly-publicised investigation into the insurrection carried out by the House’s January 6 Committee.

The charges list conversations in which Mr Trump attempted to persuade Mr Pence to delay certification of the 2020 election or reject the presidential electors.

Mr Pence declined to testify before the House committee but testified before the federal grand jury investigating Mr Trump.

Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith said the attack on the US Capitol was “fuelled by lies" from Mr Trump.

In a brief statement in Washington after the indictment against the former president was released, he said: “The attack on our nation’s capital on January 6 2021, was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy."

The former president is due to appear before US District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Thursday.

Mr Trump denies doing anything wrong with the indictment focusing on the two months between the November 2020 election and the US Capitol riot.

The former president accused prosecutors of trying to interfere with the election with what he called “yet another Fake Indictment".

“Why didn’t they do this 2.5 years ago? Why did they wait so long?" he asked on his Truth Social site.

“Because they wanted to put it right in the middle of my campaign. Prosecutorial Misconduct!"

The mounting criminal cases against Mr Trump are unfolding in the heat of the 2024 race but a conviction would not prevent him from pursuing the White House or serving as president.

Separately, New York state prosecutors have charged Mr Trump with falsifying business records about a hush money payoff to an adult film actor before the 2016 election. The trial begins in late March.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the Justice Department has brought more than three dozen felony counts against Mr Trump accusing him of illegally possessing classified documents after leaving the White House and concealing them from the government.

The trial begins in late May.

Prosecutors in Georgia are also investigating efforts by Mr Trump and his allies to reverse his election loss. Prosecutors are also expected to announce a decision on whether to indict the former president in early August.