Mike Pence has admitted he was angry with Donald Trump when the then-president accused him of cowardice and the mob turned on him on Jan. 6, describing Trump’s actions as “reckless.”
Pence, who was Trump’s vice president, told ABC News in his first televised interview since the riots that Trump “decided to be part of the problem.”
On January 6, Pence, who refused Trump’s demands to nullify the 2020 election, was in the Capitol when it was violated. The mob erected a gallows with a noose outside the building, and Pence was at one point only 10 yards from the invaders: the January 6 Committee investigating the uprising learned that Pence’s life was in very real danger.
Pence, 63, was asked by ABC’s David Muir how he felt when Trump tweeted amid the riots: “Mike Pence lacked the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution, leaving states a opportunity to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate facts they were previously required to certify. The US demands the truth!’
Speaking at his home in Indiana, the former vice president paused for a long time.
He replied, ‘It made me angry.
Mike Pence is featured in a preview of his ABC News interview with David Muir discussing the January 6 uprising
Muir asks Pence for his response to Donald Trump’s tweet, in which Trump said Pence was a coward for not undoing the 2020 election
“But I turned to my daughter, who was standing nearby, and I said, ‘It doesn’t take courage to break the law. It takes courage to enforce the law.’
“I mean, the president’s words were reckless. It was clear he decided to be part of the problem.”
Pence, an evangelical Christian believed to be running for president in 2024, is releasing his memoir “So Help Me God” on Tuesday.
Pence has so far avoided criticizing his former boss — he walked a thin line while Trump retained control of the party.
Still, Pence campaigned for Brian Kemp, a nemesis of Trump who was reelected governor of Georgia on Tuesday.
And the former radio talk show host who became governor of Indiana could have seen the midterm election debacle — which showed Trump weakening and greatly bolstering his rival Ron DeSantis — and decided to be a little more honest about his feelings.
Trump and Pence are pictured in happier times: in July 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio, at the RNC
In his memoir, excerpts of which were published last week, the day after the midterms, by The Wall Street Journaltells Pence how his protection detail drove him out of the Senate Chamber.
He said the Secret Service urged him to leave the building, but he refused – because he didn’t want to be seen in his motorcade and would give the rioters any sense of victory.
“We walked slowly down the hall. All around us was a haze of movement and chaos: security guards and police officers escorting people to safety, staffers yelling and running for shelter. I heard footsteps and angry singing,” Pence wrote.
“It took us a few extra minutes to get to the Capitol basement because I insisted we should walk, not run.
“The Secret Service team reluctantly took me in.”
He described how his aide showed him Trump’s tweet, accusing Pence of cowardice by failing to destroy the election.
Pence is seen during the January 6 riot, with his daughter Charlotte, 29
Pence was taken to the parking lot under the Capitol, but refused to join his motorcade
Rioters set up a gallows outside the Capitol and chanted: ‘Hang Mike Pence’
The insurgents are seen storming into the building, with Pence and others inside
Rioters looted the Capitol. Some of them, I was later told, chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!” I ignored the tweet and went back to work,” Pence said.
“My chief of staff arranged a conference call with congressional leadership. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell made the point that it was imperative that Congress reconvene as soon as possible to complete the vote counting. Everyone agreed.’
He said he had a meeting with Trump on January 11.
“He looked tired and his voice sounded weaker than usual. ‘How are you?’ he started. “How are Karen and Charlotte?”
“I replied curtly that we were all right and told him they’d been to the Capitol on January 6.
‘He replied with a hint of regret, ‘I just learned that.’ Then he asked, “Were you scared?”
‘No,’ I replied, ‘I was angry. You and I had our disagreements that day, Mr. President, and I was furious when I saw those people tearing up the Capitol.”
“He started talking about the election and said people were angry, but his voice died.
‘I told him to put that aside, and he calmly replied, ‘Yes.’
Pence then described speaking to Trump on January 14, following his second impeachment.
“He seemed discouraged, so I reminded him I was praying for him.
“Don’t bother,” he said.