By Gregory Clary, CNN
Former Vice President Mike Pence said former President Donald Trump’s words on social media during the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol were “reckless” and criticized Trump for being “part of the problem” that day.
Pence was asked on ABC News about Trump’s tweet during the attack that said Pence didn’t have the “courage” to unilaterally overturn the results.
“It angered me,” Pence told ABC’s David Muir after a long pause. “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 uphold the law.’ The president’s words were reckless. It was clear he decided to be part of the problem,” the former vice president continued in one of his strongest rebukes of his former boss to date.
In the Trump White House, Pence was fiercely loyal in public through the constant controversies that defined the administration, but in the wake of the January 6 riot — in which Trump supporters chanted to hang the then-vice president — he has occasionally criticized his former boss, most notably in February, when he publicly denounced Trump’s election lies.
“President Trump is wrong,” Pence said at the time, referring to the false claim that Pence, in his capacity as vice president, had the authority to unilaterally reject Electoral College votes. “I had no right to overturn the election.”
Trump, for his part, has said Pence “very greatly disappointed me” on the day the electoral votes were certified.
The former vice president has been coy about his plans for 2024. He has long been viewed as a potential aspirant for the Republican presidential nomination, but has not formally declared a bid and would almost certainly face strong opposition from Trump, whose supporters he would need in a primary fight. Trump is set to announce his 2024 campaign on Tuesday, former adviser Jason Miller said in a podcast appearance.
Throughout the midterm season, Trump and Pence had occasionally found themselves in a proxy fight, supporting opposing candidates in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin. Trump campaigned with a slate of candidates who have parroted his lies about widespread fraud in the 2020 election as Pence attempted to steer the GOP’s focus away from relitigating 2020 and toward traditional conservative policies.
Still, Pence has been careful not to completely tear himself away from Trump.
“You know, what I can tell you is I have every confidence that the Republican Party is going to sort out leadership,” Pence said last month, adding that his focus was on the midterm elections.
“But after that, we’ll be thinking about the future, ours and the nation’s.”
Pence is set to participate in a CNN town hall on Wednesday, the day after the release of his forthcoming autobiography “So Help Me God.” The town hall, moderated by CNN Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper, will take place in New York City and is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET.
This story has been updated with additional information Sunday.
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CNN’s Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report.