If Mike Pence is to have any hope in the 2024 primary, he had to make his turn against Donald Trump, and as possible state-level indictments in New York and Georgia draw closer, Trump's former VP is finally making his move.
Former Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday harshly criticized former President Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, widening the rift between the two men as they prepare to battle over the Republican nomination in next year’s election.
“President Trump was wrong,” Pence said during remarks at the annual white-tie Gridiron Dinner attended by politicians and journalists. “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.”
Pence’s remarks were the sharpest condemnation yet from the once-loyal lieutenant who has often shied away from confronting his former boss. Trump has already declared his candidacy. Pence has not, but he’s been laying the groundwork to run.
In the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, Trump pressured Pence to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory as he presided over the ceremonial certification of the results. Pence refused, and when rioters stormed the Capitol, some chanted that they wanted to “hang Mike Pence.”
The House committee that investigated the attack said in its final report that “the President of the United States had riled up a mob that hunted his own Vice President.”
With his remarks, Pence solidified his place in a broader debate within the Republican Party over how to view the attack. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, for example, recently provided Tucker Carlson with an archive of security camera footage from Jan. 6, which the Fox News host has used to downplay the day’s events and promote conspiracy theories.
“Make no mistake about it, what happened that day was a disgrace,” Pence said in his Gridiron Dinner remarks. “And it mocks decency to portray it any other way.”
This comes about two years too late, frankly.
I wonder then if Pence will cooperate with Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith's grand jury subpoena, which he was trying to block as recently as last week.
If Pence actually believes any of the the things he said last night, then he should be more than willing to cooperate with Smith.
Of course, that's not what's going to happen. But notice if Trump lays into Pence on social media this week or not. If Trump manages to hold his tongue, maybe it's because Pence's grand jury testimony could really damage Trump if Smith can work out a deal with Pence.