• Mike Pence blasted fellow Republicans for calling to “defund the FBI” in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago raid.
  • Pence’s comments come as senior Republicans seek to tone down the intense criticism leveled at the bureau.
  • Pence made his comments in New Hampshire as he continues to act as a possible 2024 hopeful.

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday lashed out against Republicans who have criticized the FBI in the wake of the raid on Mar-a-Lago.

“These attacks on the FBI must stop,” Pence said during an event in New Hampshire, home to the first-in-the-nation primary, according to a video of his remarks. “Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.”

Pence did not mention any particular Republicans by name. But Donald Trump and some of his closest allies have blasted the FBI in the wake of the unprecedented search of the former president’s property. Trump and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky have gone as far as to suggest that FBI agents could have planted evidence in the boxes of files they took with them. 

Pence did echo Trump and other Republicans call for the Justice Department to release even more information about the raid.

“This unprecedented action calls for unprecedented transparency,” he said.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has called to “defund the FBI,” repurposing a phrase that some progressives used in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Republicans continue to suggest that the broader Democratic Party wants “defund the police” and some House Democrats blamed the slogan for disappointing down-ballot results in 2020. Greene is even hawking campaign merchandise that bears the “Defund the FBI” slogan in same the blue and yellow colors the nation’s top law enforcement agency uses. A spokesperson for Greene did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pence and some of Trump’s staunchest critics have rallied around the former president in criticizing the raid. But senior Republicans are increasingly trying to clarify that their ire is reserved for Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department leadership, not the FBI agents who carried out the search. Others have gone after FBI Director Christopher Wray, even though Trump hand-picked Wray for the post.

Trump and his former vice president have an uneasy relationship, and Pence said during Wednesday’s event that he would consider testifying before the House January 6 committee

Pence’s presence in New Hampshire also underlines how the former vice president continues to visit key early states as he himself weighs a 2024 campaign. While Democrats may change the order of early caucus and primary states in 2024, Republicans are sticking with their calendar. Pence will be in Iowa, home to the first-in-the-nation caucuses, later this week where he will attend the Iowa State Fair.

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