(WASHINGTON) — Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, if elected to the White House, would not pursue charges against Joe Biden over the current president’s handling of classified documents while out of office, Ramaswamy told ABC News on Wednesday.
His comments stand in stark contrast to current GOP front-runner Donald Trump, who promised in a speech after being arraigned on federal charges on Tuesday that, if he retakes the White House, he’ll “appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president and the history of the United States of America, Joe Biden.”
Ramaswamy, though, took another view.
“I think that as part of a broader vision of laying down arms, 360 degrees, that we’re agreeing to put the past in the past and we’re ready to move forward,” the 37-year-old entrepreneur said. “That would be my way of governing.”
Both Trump and Biden have been investigated by special counsels over their handling of government secrets while out of office. Some classified documents from Biden’s earlier time in office, before his presidency, were found in his personal possession. He has since returned the materials and said in January, “We’re fully cooperating and looking forward to getting this resolved quickly.”
While Ramaswamy is currently polling at the back of the crowded field of GOP primary candidates, he said Wednesday that he has been thinking about what his presidency would look like — in content and style.
He told ABC News that he plans to look beyond traditional party lines to lead, a perspective that he argues makes him “an outsider” among his Republican rivals.
“I’m using the Republican Party as a vehicle to advance a positive nationalist agenda,” he said. “I certainly don’t think either of the two major parties, including the Republican Party, are defined what they mean. I think it is on the table how we define them.”
Ramaswamy said he remains firm on his commitment to pardon Trump if elected — a pledge that has drawn criticism from some other Republicans in the 2024 race, with former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson calling it “offensive.”
Trump, who was arraigned in Florida on Tuesday afternoon, is charged with 37 counts including willful retention of national defense information and conspiracy to obstruct justice. He denies wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors allege he illegally retained government secrets after he left the White House and worked to avoid returning them when asked.
“If there was any evidence that he was actually selling those defense plans or nuclear secrets to our foreign enemies, my judgment is completely different. That is treason,” Ramaswamy said on Wednesday. “But my assumption is that that would have been an indictment if that were the case.”
Ramaswamy has been outspoken in his disapproval of Trump’s unprecedented federal indictment, calling Trump’s alleged actions “reflective of very poor judgment” but maintaining they are not unlawful.
“I would have made different judgments than he made, but a bad judgment is not the same thing as breaking the law,” Ramaswamy said.
Despite his vocal support of Trump, who is running to win the Republican presidential nomination over him, Ramaswamy insists he is still set on winning himself.
When asked if it would be a mistake for the party to nominate Trump, he said, “I’m running because I think this party should nominate me. I do think that we do need a leader who is … offering a vision of what we are running to. We can’t be running from something.”
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