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’.
On January 6 Pence, who refused Trump’s demands to overturn the 2020 election, was inside the Capitol when it was breached. The mob erected a gallows with a noose outside the building, and Pence was at one point only 40 feet from the invaders.
The January 6 Committee, investigating the insurrection, heard that Pence’s life was in very real danger.
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.’
Mike Pence is seen in a preview of his ABC News interview with David Muir, discussing the January 6 insurrection
Muir is seen asking Pence for his reaction to Donald Trump’s tweet, in which Trump said Pence was a coward for failing to overturn the 2020 election
‘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, an evangelical Christian believed to be mulling a run for the presidency in 2024, is releasing his memoir ‘So Help Me God’ on Tuesday.
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.
The former radio talk show host turned Indiana governor, however, could have witnessed the midterms debacle – which showed Trump weakened and his rival Ron DeSantis hugely strengthened – and decided to be more forthcoming about his feelings.
Trump and Pence are pictured in happier times: in July 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio, during the RNC
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 taken 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.
‘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.
Pence is seen during the January 6 riot, with his daughter Charlotte, 29
Pence was ushered to the parking lot beneath the Capitol, but refused to get in his motorcade
Rioters erected a gallows outside the Capitol and were chanting: ‘Hang Mike Pence’
The insurrectionists are seen surging into the building, with Pence and others inside
‘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.’
He said that he met with Trump on January 11.
‘He looked tired, and his voice seemed fainter than usual. ‘How are you?’ he began. ‘How are Karen and Charlotte?’
‘I replied tersely that we were fine and told him that they had been at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
‘He responded with a hint of regret, ‘I just learned that.’ He then asked, ‘Were you scared?’
”No,’ I replied, ‘I was angry. You and I had our differences that day, Mr. President, and seeing those people tearing up the Capitol infuriated me.’
‘He started to bring up the election, saying that people were angry, but his voice trailed off.
‘I told him he had to set that aside, and he responded quietly, ‘Yeah.”
Pence then described speaking to Trump on January 14, after his second impeachment.
‘He seemed discouraged, so I reminded him that I was praying for him.
‘Don’t bother,’ he said.’