During Saturday night’s white-tie annual Gridiron Club Dinner in Washington, DC, former US Vice President Mike Pence, a former Trump loyalist, made some of his harshest comments about his one-time boss. Despite previously seeming reluctant to confront Trump, Pence publicly stated that Trump was wrong about the Jan 6 insurrection, and that he had no right to overturn the election. Pence also made jokes at Trump’s expense about the secret documents found at Mar-a-Lago. The event was attended by politicians and journalists. Pence acknowledged that Trump’s reckless words had endangered his family and everyone at the Capitol that day. Significantly, he said he believes that history will hold Trump accountable for his actions.
Trump played a significant role in inciting the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. In the weeks leading up to the event, Trump repeatedly made false claims about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election and encouraged his supporters to “stop the steal” and “fight like hell” to overturn the election results. He held a rally on the morning of January 6, where he continued to make false claims about the election and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol and “never give up” in their fight.
During the rally, Trump told his supporters to go to the Capitol and “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard, but he also made comments that could be interpreted as encouraging violence. He told his supporters that they would never take back their country with “weakness” and urged them to show strength. He also told them that he would be with them as they marched to the Capitol, although he ultimately did not join them.
After the rioters breached the Capitol, Trump initially resisted calls to publicly condemn their actions and instead released a video in which he repeated false claims about the election and told the rioters that he loved them and that they were “very special.” He eventually released another video in which he condemned the violence and urged his supporters to go home.
Trump’s actions before and during the insurrection contributed to the rioters’ belief that they were justified in taking extreme measures to overturn the election results. His rhetoric helped to create a volatile and dangerous atmosphere, which ultimately led to the events of January 6.
Pence and former US President Donald Trump had a complex relationship during their time together in the White House. Their relationship was initially seen as one of loyalty and mutual respect. Pence was often seen as a calming influence on Trump, and the two were known to have a good working relationship.
However, their relationship became strained in the final days of Trump’s presidency. Pence refused to comply with Trump’s demands to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which Trump falsely claimed was rigged against him. Trump publicly criticized Pence on Twitter, and some of Trump’s supporters even threatened Pence’s safety during the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.
Despite this tension, Pence continued to support Trump throughout his presidency, and he played a key role in implementing many of Trump’s policies. Pence was a vocal advocate for Trump’s tax cuts, immigration policies, and efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Their relationship was defined by a mix of loyalty, respect, and occasional conflict. Pence was willing to stand by Trump and support his agenda, but he also drew a line when it came to upholding the rule of law and the integrity of the electoral process.
Pence did not blame any specific individual for the January 6th riots at the U.S. Capitol, but he did publicly condemn the violence and expressed his support for the law enforcement officers who worked to restore order. In a statement that he issued during the riots, Pence said, “We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms. We grieve the loss of life in these hallowed halls, as well as the injuries suffered by those who defended our Capitol today.”
He also called on the rioters to leave the Capitol building and allow Congress to continue with its constitutional duty of certifying the electoral college results. Later, in a joint session of Congress after the Capitol was secured, Pence declared President Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, affirming the will of the American people and the integrity of the democratic process.
Pence, who has been speculated to announce his candidacy for the 2024 presidential elections, took a serious tone when discussing the Jan 6 insurrection during the dinner in Washington, DC. Despite making jokes about his former boss, Pence made it clear that he did not joke about the insurrection, which he referred to as a “tragic day.” He criticized Republicans and right-wing media outlets who tried to downplay the severity of the events that occurred.
Pence argued that the actions of the rioters went beyond what could be considered tourism, noting that tourists don’t injure police officers or break down doors to reach public officials. He emphasized that the events of Jan 6 were a disgrace and that it was wrong to portray them in any other way.
Some speculate that Pence’s criticism was intended to lay the groundwork for his own candidacy in the 2024 presidential election. Regardless of his intentions, his comments demonstrate his willingness to address the seriousness of the insurrection and stand up for the rule of law.
It is considered serious if a former US vice president makes public his opinion on his former boss and Pence’s comments should not be taken lightly. His admission of truth, that Trump was responsible for the Capitol riots, is significant.
In a memoir released in November, Pence accused Trump of endangering his family. “What happened that day was a disgrace,” he said. “And it mocks decency to portray it any other way. For as long as I live, I will never, ever diminish the injuries sustained, the lives lost, or the heroism of law enforcement on that tragic day.”
It is becoming more clear by the day that Trump did not do enough to prevent the insurrection and in fact encouraged it. As Pence said, history will hold Trump accountable.