Trump’s former deputy Pence offers the most forceful rebuke to date and reveals he may challenge the former president for the Republican nomination.
History will hold former US President Donald Trump “accountable” for his role in the 2021 attack on the US Capitol, his former deputy Mike Pence said, offering his most forceful rebuke to date of his former boss.
“President Trump was wrong,” Pence said in a speech at the annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington, DC, on Saturday.
“I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day. And I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”
The remarks are likely to widen the rift between the former running mates, who have been at loggerheads ever since Pence refused to go along with Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and remain 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 in the Capitol when Trump supporters breached the building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying the results of the election where Trump lost to Joe Biden.
As the vice president has the constitutional role of Senate president, Pence was presiding over what had always been the ceremonial task of approving the votes of the Electoral College to select the president and vice president.
Trump has already declared his intention to seek a new term as president in the 2024 elections, and Pence indicated he might challenge him for the Republican nomination.
Pence rarely addressed the incident in the following months but has now upped his criticism of the rioters and the behaviour of his former boss that day.
He has sharply criticised Trump’s conduct 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 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.”