Former Vice President Mike Pence unleashed his harshest criticism to date of his former boss Saturday night at an annual dinner with Washington insiders and journalists.
Mr. Pence accused former President Donald Trump of endangering his family during the attack on the U.S. Capitol by demanding he overturn the 2020 election results, calling the Jan. 6, 2021, riot a “disgrace.”
“President Trump was wrong,” Mr. Pence said in remarks at the white-tie Gridiron Dinner in the nation’s capital, according to The Associated Press. “I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”
Mr. Trump, who has declared his 2024 candidacy, had not publicly responded to the remarks, as of Sunday morning.
Mr. Pence is expected to launch a challenge for the Republican nomination but has not officially declared.
“Make no mistake about it, what happened that day was a disgrace,” Mr. Pence said. “And it mocks decency to portray it any other way.”
Thanks to his repeated criticism, Mr. Pence has fallen out of favor with Mr. Trump and his wing of the party, which makes up much of the GOP base. Mr. Pence secured less than 1% support in a straw poll at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this month, compared to Mr. Trump‘s 62% support.
Mr. Pence broke from Mr. Trump during the riot and refused to overturn the certification of the 2020 election results, infuriating supporters of the president who at one point chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” The crowd also placed a noose on makeshift gallows outside the U.S. Capitol.
As vice president, Mr. Pence played a ceremonial role in presiding over the session of Congress to certify the results and was accompanied by family members.
At Saturday night’s gala, he also took a shot at Mr. Trump with a joke about mishandling classified documents, despite Mr. Pence also improperly having sensitive materials in his personal possession after his time in office.
“I read that some of those classified documents they found at Mar-a-Lago were actually stuck in the president’s Bible,” Mr. Pence said. “Which proves he had absolutely no idea they were there.”