In another example of grievance-casting from Donald Trump, the former president has placed Mike Pence in his crosshairs again for Pence’s inaction after the presidential election in 2020. The latest dust-up started when the former vice president said that history would hold Trump responsible for the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. Trump replied that Pence’s lack of effort to reject electoral votes after the election caused the insurrection.
Trump Said Pence’s Actions Could Have Prevented January 6
“Had he sent the votes back to the legislatures, they wouldn’t have had a problem with January 6, so in so many ways you can blame him for January 6,” Trump said to reporters March 13 before leaving for a campaign stop in Iowa. “Had he sent them back to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, the states, I believe number one, you would have had a different outcome. But I also you wouldn’t have had ‘January 6’ as we call it.”
Pence Said He and His Family Were at Risk that Infamous Day
Trump said this to answer Pence’s words he shared with a crowd at the Gridiron dinner in Washington, DC on March 11. Trump, who never ceases to back down after criticism, was incensed at Pence because the former vice president said Trump had been wrong to try and change the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“His reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the capitol that day. And I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable,” Pence said in remarks at the event.
Trump Said the Attacks from Pence Are a Political Ploy
Trump thinks that Pence is after him because the former VP is doing poorly in polls. Pence has not officially declared he is running for president. Trump did admit Pence is “nice,” but he claimed that Pence’s niceness is not endearing him to voters.
Rioters Wanted to ‘Hang Mike Pence’
Pence served his term with steadfast loyalty to Trump, but he refused to go beyond his ceremonial duties on January 6, claiming that sending results back to state legislatures would be unconstitutional. This would have entailed ignoring the electoral college. Trump was enraged at Pence’s reluctance to change the outcome of the election. Rioters were chanting “hang Mike Pence” during the assault on the capitol.
Pence Said Trump Was Wrong
Trump is still convinced that Pence could have easily changed his mind and that the VP could have behaved the way the president wanted him to act.
Pence said at his Gridiron speech in Washington, “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.”
Pence Could Be Making a Move Toward a Presidential Campaign
Those in Pence’s circle believe that the former VP could tout his experience at the White House and his steadfast reliance on doing the right thing to make him a top contender for the presidency in 2024.
Pence Can Now Speak His Mind
Pence is not afraid of Trump and does not have to hold back in criticism. Some candidates and potential candidates are showing a reticence to speak ill of Trump.
Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff and current advisor, told Politico that “Mike is in a different place where he can be sort of free and liberated in ways that I don’t think others in the field are,” Short said. “And so I’m not looking at it as to where he is at this moment. I believe that he’s got a good pathway forward.”
The Pence-Trump battle may be only just beginning. Mike Pence has gone the route of criticizing his former boss and may not back down. This could lead other candidates to either remain silent about January 6 or start a round of tearing Trump down for his actions and inactions on that fateful day.
Author Expertise and Experience:
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.