In an interview that aired on ABC on Monday morning, former Vice President Mike Pence condemned former President Donald Trump for his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol building.
Pence was at the Capitol the day of the attack overseeing the certification of the Electoral College vote. Trump had urged Pence numerous times in public statements and behind the scenes to refuse to count legitimate electors’ votes and to accept fake electors in order to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election to now-President Joe Biden.
Pence correctly noted that he didn’t have the legal authority to take such actions, as Amendment 12 of the U.S. Constitution stipulates that the vice president’s role during the certification process is simply to observe. In response, Trump tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” and gave an incendiary speech pushing false claims of election fraud to a mob of his loyalists outside the White House, instructing them to head to Congress to express their grievances in person.
That mob went on to violently breach the U.S Capitol building, with dozens chanting for Pence to be hanged.
“The president’s words that day at the rally endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol building,” the former vice president said in the interview on Monday night.
Trump’s tweet to his loyalists “angered” him, Pence went on.
EXCLUSIVE: "The president's words were reckless," Mike Pence tells @DavidMuir of Trump’s words on Jan. 6, saying they "endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol building."
— ABC News (@ABC) November 13, 2022
“The president’s words were reckless. It was clear he decided to be part of the problem,” he said.
Pence’s interview comes nearly one year to the day after Trump said it was “common sense” for his loyalists to call for the vice president to be hanged.
In an interview with ABC News’s Jonathan Karl last November, Trump said he wasn’t worried about Pence’s safety during the attack because he was “well-protected” — ignoring the fact that the mob of his loyalists had broken security barriers and rushed past Capitol police. At one point, the mob managed to get within a few dozen feet of the vice president.
Throughout that interview, Trump maintained that the election was fraudulent — a lie he continues to push without evidence — and justified the crowd’s anger toward Pence. “How can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress? How can you do that?” Trump said, wrongly suggesting that Pence had the constitutional power to block the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Pence’s comments on ABC come just one day before Trump is expected to announce a 2024 presidential run. Pence is also likely to announce he’s running for president, and his interview coincides with the recent publication of his book.
Many social media users blasted the former vice president for standing by Trump when it was politically expedient for him to do so and for not cooperating with the January 6 committee’s investigation.
“As Mike Pence embarks on his redemption/book tour, never forget that he proudly stood by as Donald Trump locked migrant children in cages, bragged about sexually assaulting women, attacked the free press, called dead soldiers ‘suckers & losers’, and spread lies about voter fraud,” podcaster Dash Dobrofsky wrote on Twitter.
“Not a real profile in courage here from Mike Pence,” former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance tweeted, adding that Pence did the interview to “resurrect a political career, but he wouldn’t do it for the right reasons earlier, when it could have made a difference.”