Mike Pence has admitted he was angry at Donald Trump when the then-president accused him of cowardice and set the mob on him on January 6, describing Trump’s actions as ‘reckless’.
Pence, who served as Trump’s vice president, told ABC News in his first television interview since the riot that Trump ‘decided to be part of the problem’.
Pence, 63, was asked by ABC’s David Muir how he felt when Trump tweeted amid the riot: ‘Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!’
The former vice president, speaking at his Indiana home, paused for a long time.
He replied: ‘It angered me.
‘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.’
‘I mean, the president’s words were reckless. It was clear he decided to be part of the problem.’
Pence has, until now, avoided criticizing his former boss – treading a fine line while Trump retained control of the party.
Yet Pence campaigned for Brian Kemp, a Trump nemesis who was reelected Georgia governor on Tuesday.
In his memoir, excerpts of which were published last week, the day after the midterms, by The Wall Street Journal, Pence tells how he was spirited from the Senate chamber by his protection detail.
He said the Secret Service were urging him to leave the building, but he refused – not wanting to be seen speeding away in his motorcade, and giving the rioters any sense of victory.
‘We walked out into the hall slowly. All around us was a blur of motion and chaos: security and police officers directing people to safety, staffers shouting and running for shelter. I heard footsteps and angry chanting,’ Pence wrote.
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‘Making our way to the basement of the Capitol took a few extra minutes because I insisted that we walk, not run.
‘The Secret Service team grudgingly accommodated me.’
He described how his assistant showed him Trump’s tweet, accusing Pence of cowardice in not overturning the election.
‘Rioters were ransacking the Capitol. Some of them, I was later told, were chanting, ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ I ignored the tweet and got back to work,’ Pence said.
‘My chief of staff arranged for a conference call with the congressional leadership. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made the point that it was imperative Congress reconvene as soon as possible to complete the vote count. Everyone agreed.’