Pence Can’t Stop Defending Trump’s Actions on Jan. 6 – Rolling Stone

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Despite Donald Trump’s supporters constructing a gallows to hang Mike Pence in front of the Capitol on Jan. 6, the former vice president continues to defend Trump’s actions that day as not that bad.

“The president’s words were reckless that day. I had no right to overturn the election,” Pence told Dana Bash during a Sunday appearance on CNN’s State of the Union. “But while his words were reckless, based on what I know, I’m not yet convinced that they were criminal.”

Pence, who has launched his 2024 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, is trying to walk a fine line because more than a quarter of Republicans approve of the attack on the Capitol, and more than half believe the events of that day were a form of legitimate political discourse. And Pence wants their votes.

Bash asked Pence, “If that evidence [uncovered by special counsel Jack Smith] does point to an actual crime, you still think that it’s better for the country that [Trump] not be indicted and held accountable?”

Pence tried to dodge the question by talking about “whistle-blower testimony on Capitol Hill this week that, in all fairness, was largely ignored by much of the national media,” referring to testimony from two IRS whistleblowers who claim they recommended more serious charges against Hunter Biden than what the president’s son ended up pleading guilty to. But Bash didn’t let him derail the conversation and pressed.

“You have a very unique perspective, because your life and the life of your family was at risk that day, which you have talked about very extensively,” the host said. “You still believe that the former president should be held to a different standard, if what you experienced turned out to be based in breaking the law, and that is shown through evidence found by the special counsel’s investigation?”

Pence answered, “President Trump was wrong on that day, and he’s still wrong in asserting that I had the right to overturn the election. But what his intentions were — and, as you know, criminal charges have everything to do with intent, what the president’s state of mind was. I don’t honestly know what his intention was that day as he spoke to that crowd, as he tweeted during the riot itself. But, for my part, from what I saw, as I have said, his actions were reckless. I believe that history will hold him accountable. I believe that Republican primary voters know that we need new leadership in this party.”

During the riot, Trump tweeted calling for Pence to have “extreme courage” and overturn the results of a democratic election, and when Pence did not, Trump tweeted, that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”

Giving up on getting Pence to admit that Trump broke the law on Jan. 6, Bash pivoted to Trump’s more recent comments that if he is sentenced to jail time, his supporters’ response “would be very dangerous” because they have “much more passion than they had in 2020 and much more passion than they had in 2016.”

“Does that kind of rhetoric worry you?” Bash asked Pence.

“Well, it doesn’t worry me because I have more confidence in the American people and in the people in our movement,” he replied. “Look, it was one of the things that infuriated me on Jan. 6 with what I saw, people ransacking the Capitol and engaging in violence against law enforcement officers, Dana. I would say not just the majority, but virtually everyone in our movement are the kind of Americans who love this country, are patriotic, or are law- and-order people who would never have done anything like that there or anywhere else. So, I don’t — no, I have more confidence in the American people than that.”


To this Bash quipped, “That’s pretty remarkable that you’re not concerned about it, given the fact that they wanted to hang you on Jan. 6.”

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