Former Vice President Mike Pence says then-President Donald Trump used “reckless” rhetoric during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol while Mr. Pence and members of Congress were trying to certify President Biden’s electoral win.
“I mean, the president’s words were reckless. It was clear he decided to be part of the problem,” Mr. Pence told ABC News’ David Muir in an interview ahead of the Tuesday release of his memoir, “So Help Me God.”
Mr. Trump famously tried to get Mr. Pence to avoid certifying the electoral votes for Mr. Biden, saying the results should return to the states for further review.
Mr. Pence said he was angered by Mr. Trump’s decision to tweet that his vice president “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” as attackers stormed the building, putting Mr. Pence himself and others in potential danger.
“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,’” Mr. Pence said.
“The president’s words were reckless, and his actions were reckless,” Mr. Pence said during the interview at his Indiana home. “The president’s words that day at the rally [before the riot] endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol building.”
SEE ALSO: Pence book excerpt: Trump gave voice to Americans fed up with decades of government mismanagement
Mr. Pence and members of Congress returned to the Capitol later that day to finish the certification.
ABC News plans to air the full interview later Monday. It is Mr. Pence’s first major interview with a network since the Jan. 6 riot.
Since then, Mr. Pence has visited key primary states ahead of a possible 2024 bid and touted a “freedom agenda” that hails the policy accomplishments of the Trump-Pence administration.
He has avoided direct attacks on Mr. Trump amid their falling out, though has said he is focused on the future instead of the past — a veiled dig at his former boss, who remains obsessed with the 2020 election outcome.
It is unclear if Mr. Pence would be able to carve a lane for himself in a 2024 GOP primary, given Mr. Trump’s attacks on him.
The ex-president is viewed as weaker than usual, however, given the disappointing performance of his hand-picked candidates in the recent midterm elections. Some Republicans have blamed Mr. Trump for the losses and say it is time for the party to move on.
Mr. Trump is expected to announce a 2024 White House bid on Tuesday, the same day that Mr. Pence’s memoir is released.