Nearly two years after the Jan. 6 attack, former Vice President Mike Pence said ex-President Donald Trump “endangered me and my family” by siccing a mob of MAGA extremists on him inside the Capitol.
“(Trump’s) words were reckless and his actions were reckless,” Pence told David Muir of ABC News in a new interview. “The president’s words that day … endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol building.
“It was clear he decided to be part of the problem,” Pence added.
The interview marks a dramatic shift in tone for Pence, who hast mostly downplayed Trump’s responsibility for the deadly attack that included an attack on the vice president as the mob hunted him down, chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”
His remarks came a day before Trump is expected to announce the launch of his 2024 presidential campaign on Tuesday and less than a week after Trump-backed Republicans badly flopped in the midterm elections.
Pence conceded he was “angered” when Trump tweeted in the middle of the violent riot that his onetime loyal lieutenant “didn’t have the courage” to help overturn President Joe Biden’s election win.
“It angered me,” he said. “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.’”
The former vice president is promoting the release of his memoir, “So Help Me God,” which includes a somewhat more candid assessment of Trump’s role in the attempted insurrection.
Up to now, Pence has avoided directly criticizing Trump. He refused to support impeachment, which would have barred Trump from running for office again, and declined pleas to testify publicly before the congressional committee investigating Jan. 6.
The book hits shelves on Tuesday, the same day that Trump plans to launch his comeback run for the White House. Pence has teased a potential presidential run, although he has not made any announcement.
Pence, a famously cautious politician, may feel more emboldened to break from Trump after Republicans dramatically underperformed expectations in the midterm elections, failing to retake the Senate and leaving control of the House of Representatives up in the air for now.
Trump’s grip on the GOP appears to be shakier than at any time since the days after Jan. 6, as many of his hand-picked candidates lost, sparking some soul-searching about his political brand.
But analysts warned against underestimating Trump’s ability to maintain power within the party, especially once he openly declares his campaign for president.