Since leaving office, former Vice President Mike Pence has distanced himself from his old boss, former President Donald Trump.
In October, he declined to endorse Trump’s ongoing campaign for president, and he took a wait-and-see approach instead. In July, he returned to Washington, D.C., for the first time in the Biden presidency, and he gave a speech on the same day as Trump without appearing alongside him.
But on Sunday, Pence took it to a new level.
“President Trump was wrong,” Pence said during remarks at the annual white-tie Gridiron Dinner attended by politicians and D.C. insiders, referring to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. “His reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”
CNN called Pence’s words “most blistering comments yet about former President Donald Trump’s role.”
In the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, Pence was presiding over the Senate’s formal certification of the presidential election’s results, as is the role of the vice president. Rioters stormed the Capitol, and some chanted that they wanted to “hang Mike Pence.”
“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.”
Pence also said that he didn’t have the power to overturn an election and that the vice president serves a purely ceremonial role.
Speeches at the Gridiron Dinner are usually humorous affairs, where politicians poke fun at each other, and Pence did plenty of that as well… at Trump’s expense.
He joked that Trump’s ego was so fragile, he wanted his vice president to sing “Wind Beneath My Wings” — one of the lines is “did you ever know that you’re my hero?” — during their weekly lunches.
He took another shot at Trump over classified documents.
“I read that some of those classified documents they found at Mar-a-Lago were actually stuck in the president’s Bible,” Pence said. “Which proves he had absolutely no idea they were there.”
Like Trump, Pence has been caught with his own trove of classified documents.
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The former vice president has yet to formally announce a 2024 presidential campaign but is expected to do so soon. So far, the GOP’s only declared candidates are former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, author-turned-activist Vivek Ramaswamy, and Trump himself.
As of Monday, Trump has returned to Iowa to campaign for the GOP’s presidential nomination.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.