Former Vice President Mike Pence has been speaking out about his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, when he certified the results of the 2020 presidential election despite pressure from former President Donald Trump to overturn them. Pence, who is running for the 2024 Republican nomination, has faced criticism and threats from some of Trump’s supporters, who falsely believe that he had the power to reject the electoral votes of some states.
Pence says he followed the Constitution and the law
In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash that aired on Sunday, Pence said he had no regrets about his decision to uphold the Constitution and the law on Jan. 6. He said he was “not yet convinced” that Trump’s actions that day were criminal, but he acknowledged that Trump was “wrong” to assert that he could overturn the election.
“I really do hope it doesn’t come to that,” Pence said, referring to a possible indictment of Trump by special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating the former president’s attempts to interfere with the election. “But … criminal charges have everything to do with intent, what the president’s state of mind was.”
Pence also said he welcomed the opportunity to set the record straight about what happened on Jan. 6, and that he would comply with the law if he were called to testify in Trump’s trial.
“I have no plans to testify, but, look, we’ll always comply with the law,” he said. “But … I don’t know what the path of this indictment will be.”
Pence faces backlash from Trump and his allies
Pence’s remarks came after he denounced Trump over the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, where a mob of Trump’s supporters stormed the building and chanted “Hang Mike Pence” as they tried to stop the certification of the election. Pence and his family were evacuated from the Senate chamber as the rioters breached the security barriers.
“History will hold Donald Trump accountable for Jan. 6,” Pence said on Saturday at the Gridiron Dinner in Washington, according to accounts from reporters in the room. “Make no mistake about it: What happened that day was a disgrace, and it mocks decency to portray it in any other way. President Trump was wrong. His reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day.”
Pence also praised the journalists who covered the events of Jan. 6, saying they helped him and other lawmakers stay at their posts.
“The American people know what happened that day because you never stopped reporting,” he said.
Trump responded to Pence’s statement by blaming him for not rejecting some of the electoral votes won by Joe Biden, something that Pence did not have the authority to do.
“I heard his statement, and I guess he decided that being nice isn’t working because he’s at 3% in the polls, so he figured he might as well not be nice any longer,” Trump told a small group of media aboard his plane on Monday.
Trump also said Pence shared the “blame” for Jan. 6 and that he would have prevented the riot if he had sent back the electoral votes to some states.
“Had he sent them back to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, the states, I believe, No. 1, you would have had a different outcome. But I also believe you wouldn’t have had ‘Jan. 6’ as we call it,” Trump said.
Trump has also been recruiting surrogates to attack Pence and undermine his presidential bid. He recently endorsed former national security adviser Keith Kellogg over Pence in Iowa, saying Kellogg was “loyal” and “smart”.
Pence tries to appeal to GOP voters in Iowa
Despite the challenges from Trump and his base, Pence has been trying to appeal to Republican voters in Iowa, where he visited last week as part of his campaign. He spoke at the Iowa State Fair and participated in a fireside chat with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Pence highlighted his conservative record as vice president and governor of Indiana, and criticized President Biden’s policies on immigration, inflation, energy, and foreign affairs.
He also defended his stance on Jan. 6, saying he did what he believed was right for the country.
“I’m proud of what we accomplished for America,” he said. “I’m proud of what we accomplished for Iowa.”
Pence also faced some tough questions from voters who challenged him on his role on Jan. 6. One man asked him why he committed “treason” by certifying Biden’s victory.
Pence told him that he appreciated that he gave him a “respectful listen” and explained that he followed his oath of office and the Constitution.
“I understand we all have our opinions about what happened in 2020,” Pence said. “But I hope you appreciate I have a strong opinion about our Constitution.”