Former Vice President Mike Pence delivered his strongest comments yet about the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot attack on the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, saying he and former President Donald Trump may never see “eye to eye” on the event.
“January 6 was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol,” Pence said at the Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, Republican Committee’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner. “But thanks to the swift action of the Capitol Police and federal law enforcement, violence was quelled, the Capitol was secured. And that same day we reconvened the Congress and did our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”
He added: “You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye on that day.”
Pence still praised the accomplishments of the Trump administration.
“But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years,” he said. “And I will not allow Democrats or their allies in the media to use one tragic day to discredit the aspirations of millions of Americans or allow Democrats or their allies in the media to distract our attention from a new administration intent on dividing our country to advance their radical agenda.”
The Capitol descended into chaos and violence on Jan. 6 when hundreds of pro-Trump rioters swarmed the building, leading to the deaths of several people, including a Capitol Police officer. The mob forced the Senate to evacuate, and Pence had to be ushered to safety. In one dramatic moment, police officers drew guns as rioters tried to break into the House chamber. Hundreds of people have been arrested or charged by federal law enforcement in connection with the events.
The riot led the Democratic-controlled House to draft an article of impeachment against Trump, alleging that he incited an insurrection. He was acquitted in the Senate, but the events have left the GOP in turmoil, in particular leading to the ouster of Liz Cheney of Wyoming as the No. 3 House Republican because of her criticism of Trump over the riot.
A large number of House Republicans also opposed creating a Jan. 6 commission, which passed with overwhelming Democratic support. Only 35 Republicans voted in favor.
Pence’s brother, Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., was among those who voted against establishing a panel that would have investigated the day the pro-Trump mob chanted, “Hang Mike Pence.” Trump also turned on Pence, saying his second-in-command had not had the courage to stop the counting of the electoral votes certifying Joe Biden’s election as president. Under the Constitution, Pence did not have the authority to do so.
Pence also criticized Biden’s policies Thursday, particularly on immigration and foreign relations, and he said a “Republican comeback” will come in the midterm elections next year through a “positive conservative agenda.”
Amanda Golden contributed.