Now that former Vice President Mike Pence has his eye on the GOP nomination for the 2024 election, he has sharp words for his ex-boss, Donald Trump, but only for the press; he has none for the January 6 committee that has been trying to get his sworn testimony for quite some time now.
Just this past November, when asked whether he would sit for questioning, Pence claimed that Congress has “no right” to his testimony, adding, “I’m closing the door on that.”
On February 9, Mike Pence was issued a subpoena by the special counsel investigating ex-President Donald Trump for his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss and the events leading to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Nothing has come of that and Pence has refused to even comment on the subpoena.
But this Saturday, Pence harshly criticized the man who stoked the violence against him and his family on January 6, 2020. He didn’t do this in front of a committee, but at the annual white-tie Gridiron Dinner attended by politicians and journalists where humor is the order of the day. “President Trump was wrong,” he said, “I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day.” In the clearest condemnation that we have yet heard from him, he said, “I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”
In the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, Trump pressured Pence to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory and repeatedly claimed that Pence, as vice president, had the sole authority to deny Biden the win. Trump followers took their leader at his word and when Pence refused, and rioters stormed the Capitol, some chanted, “hang Mike Pence.”
The House committee that investigated the attack concurred: in its final report it clearly stated that, “the President of the United States had riled up a mob that hunted his own Vice President.”
With his remarks on Saturday night, Pence solidified his place in a broader debate within the Republican Party over how to view the attack. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, for example, recently provided Tucker Carlson with an archive of security camera footage from Jan. 6, which the Fox News host has used to downplay the day’s events and promote conspiracy theories.
Probably alluding to Fox hosts’ multiple attempts to whitewash and misrepresent the events of January 6, on Saturday Pence said, “Make no mistake about it, what happened that day was a disgrace…And it mocks decency to portray it any other way.”
Trump, meanwhile, has been unrepentant and continued to spread lies about his election loss. He’s even spoken in support of the rioters and said he would consider pardoning them if he was reelected.
Speeches at the Gridiron Dinner are usually humorous affairs, where politicians poke fun at each other, and Pence did that as well, but the sharp edges of the jokes were still aimed at cutting down Trump.
He kidded that Trump’s ego was so fragile, he wanted his vice president to sing “Wind Beneath My Wings” — one of the lines is “did you ever know that you’re my hero?” — during their weekly lunches.
Later he took another shot at Trump over classified documents. “I read that some of those classified documents they found at Mar-a-Lago were actually stuck in the president’s Bible,” Pence said. “Which proves he had absolutely no idea they were there.”
It was a good performance and it lays the groundwork for his own campaign to win the GOP nomination, but it’s a shame that he can’t offer up truthful testimony where it would matter, in front of the special counsel investigating the events of Jan. 6, with his hand on the Bible.
Discussion about this post