Mike Pence Takes Aim at Trump’s Jan. 6 Actions, Sparks Debate About His Intentions

Former Vice President Mike Pence took the opportunity of his latest stop in Washington, D.C. to deliver a stinging criticism of former President Donald Trump over what happened on January 6, 2021. During his remarks at the annual Gridiron Club Dinner, Pence made it clear that he disagreed with Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and that his reckless words endangered his family and everyone at the Capitol that day. This marked one of Pence’s strongest rebukes yet of Trump and suggests that he may be positioning himself for a 2024 White House run.

Pence has also been subpoenaed by the special counsel investigating the Jan. 6 attack, but he indicated that he will resist testifying.[0] However, Pence’s comments have been largely limited to personal misconduct, failing to address the political mechanics of what was happening and the ongoing threat posed to democratic life.

His comments on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg's paternity leave also raised eyebrows, with Pence joking that “he took two months ‘maternity’ leave whereupon thousands of travelers were stranded in airports, the air traffic system shut down, and airplanes nearly collided on our runways. Pete is the only person in human history to have a child and everyone else gets postpartum depression.”[1] Chasten Buttigieg responded to Pence’s remarks, saying “An honest question for you, Mike Pence, after your attempted joke this weekend. If your grandchild was born prematurely and placed on a ventilator at two months old – their tiny fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background – where would you be?”[2]

Trump responded to Pence’s comments by saying that the former vice president should shoulder the blame for the violent riot that day, since “Had he sent the votes back to the legislatures, they wouldn’t have had a problem with Jan. 6.” Trump also said that he believes there would not have been a “Jan. 6” if Pence had sent the votes back to the state legislatures in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona.

Pence’s comments have sparked a debate about his intentions and his role in holding Trump accountable for his actions.[3] While Pence talks about the lives of Pence’s family and lawmakers at the Capitol, he doesn't talk about the ongoing threat posed to democratic life.

0. “Trump claims violence he inspired on Jan. 6 was Pence's fault” The Washington Post, 14 Mar. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/03/13/trump-pence-iowa/

1. “Playbook: Pence goes where no 2024 contender has gone before” POLITICO, 12 Mar. 2023, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2023/03/12/pence-goes-where-no-2024-contender-has-gone-before-00086675

2. “White House says Pence should apologize for “homophobic joke” about Buttigieg” CBS News, 13 Mar. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mike-pence-pete-buttigieg-gridiron-dinner-joke-white-house-apology/

3. “Mike Pence Is the Least Self-Aware Politician in America” The New Republic, 13 Mar. 2023, https://newrepublic.com/article/171123/pence-gridiron-club-january-6

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