Trump’s former deputy Pence offers the most forceful rebuke yet, revealing he can challenge the former president for the Republican nomination.
History will hold former US President Donald Trump “responsible” for his role in the 2021 attack on the US Capitol, his former deputy Mike Pence said, his strongest rebuke to date from his former boss.
“President Trump was wrong,” Pence said in a speech Saturday at the annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington, DC.
“I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone in the Capitol that day. And I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”
The comments are likely to widen the rift between the former running mates, who have been at odds since Pence refused to agree with Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results and stay in power.
Some of the thousands who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 called for Pence to be hanged, forcing him to rush to a safe location.
Pence was at the Capitol when Trump supporters broke into the building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying the results of the election, with Trump losing to Joe Biden.
Since the vice president has the constitutional role of senate president, Pence presided over what had always been the ceremonial task of approving the electoral college votes to select the president and vice president.
Trump has already stated his intention to seek another term as president in the 2024 election, and Pence indicated he could challenge him for the Republican nomination.
Pence rarely spoke of the incident over the following months, but has now increased his criticism of the rioters and his former boss’s behavior that day.
He has sharply criticized Trump’s behavior in recent media interviews. In a memoir released in November, he accused Trump of endangering his family.
“What happened that day was a disgrace,” he said. “And it mocks the decency to portray it in any other way. As long as I live, I will never, ever diminish the injuries sustained, the lives lost, or the heroism of the police on that tragic day.”