WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump, whose coup attempt on Jan. 6, 2021, put his vice president’s life at risk as a mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol, on Monday blamed Mike Pence for the violence that day because he didn’t go along with the scheme.
“Had he sent the votes back to the legislators, they wouldn’t have had a problem with Jan. 6,” the former president told reporters on a flight to an Iowa campaign stop. “So in many ways, you can blame him for Jan. 6.”
Pence, who presided over the ceremonial counting of Electoral College ballots that day, had no authority to send “votes back” to state legislatures. In any event, Trump actually had tried to pressure Pence to simply reject the votes from certain key states and declare Trump the winner of the 2020 election that he had lost to Democrat Joe Biden, according to Trump White House officials.
Trump’s new comments, reported by CBS Political Director Fin Gomez, who was among the reporters on Trump’s plane, came in response to Pence’s remarks on Saturday, when he said Trump’s words and deeds had nearly gotten his family killed.
“President Trump was wrong,” Pence said in remarks at the annual dinner of the Gridiron Club in Washington, D.C. “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 that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”
Trump set the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol in motion days after the Electoral College had voted on Dec. 14, 2020, formally giving Biden the presidency, when he told his followers to converge on Washington the day of the congressional certification.
He had spent the weeks following his election loss lying that his reelection had been “stolen,” and he continued those lies through December and the first week of January. At a rally blocks from the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, he told his followers he would march with them to the Capitol and that they had to “fight like hell” if they wanted to save their country.
Four of his supporters died that afternoon, with five police officers dying in the aftermath. An additional 140 officers were injured.
Trump is now under criminal investigation in Georgia and by the U.S. Department of Justice for his actions. He nevertheless is running for the Republican presidential nomination and is currently the front-runner.