In his strongest terms yet, former US Vice President Mike Pence has criticized former political boss Donald Trump for his inciting role in the run-up to the Capitol storm. “President Trump was wrong,” Pence said Saturday night at a gala dinner with reporters in Washington. “His reckless words endangered my family and everyone in the Capitol that day and I know history will hold Donald Trump responsible.”
Trump supporters who stormed the House of Representatives on January 6, 2021, chanted, among other things, “Hang Mike Pence” and had also erected a makeshift gallows outside. That day, the House of Representatives and Senate had to formally endorse Joe Biden’s election victory in a joint meeting. The rioters believed Trump’s lie that Pence, as chairman of this meeting, could still sabotage Biden’s victory.
The constitution, however, did not allow him to do so, Pence had already informed his boss. Trump sent tweets in the morning of January 6, but also in the afternoon when the riots had already broken out, accusing Pence of a lack of courage. The Vice President and his relatives were brought to safety by the Secret Service through the catacombs of the Capitol after intruders had approached them a few dozen meters.
Pence initially declined to comment on “January 6” over the past two years, but in recent months has increasingly distanced himself from Trump in interviews and in his recently published memoirs. This fuels speculation that the ex-vice president is gearing up for his own shot at the White House. At the end of last year, Trump already declared himself as the Republican candidate for the November 2024 presidential election.
The thrice-married Trump chose evangelical Christian Pence as his running mate in 2016 in an attempt to allay skepticism among conservative voters. Pence is still well suited to this loyal, religious electorate, but with his criticism of the ex-president he risks further alienating the populist wing of the Republican electorate.
It is customary for invited politicians to tell a few jokes at the Washington Gideon dinner that Pence sat at on Saturday. It turned out that Pence is willing to choose the attack. For example, he attacked Trump for his careless handling of state secret documents. “I read that some of those documents were found in Mar-a-Lago in the President’s Bible. Which proves that he really had no idea they were there.”