Mike Pence says Donald Trump's 'reckless words' endangered his family on January 6

At annual Gridiron dinner, former vice president takes opportunity to roast his former boss

Because the Gridiron Dinner is typically a jovial affair, Mike Pence also took the opportunity to poke fun at Donald Trump. AP
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Former vice president Mike Pence had some harsh words for his former boss Donald Trump over both his handling of the January 6 riot at the US Capitol as well as the lead-up to the violence.

“President Trump was wrong,” Mr Pence said on Saturday 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.”

After losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden, Mr Trump repeatedly pressed Mr Pence to overturn the results before the ceremonial certification. Mr Pence refused.

When rioters breached the Capitol, they could be heard chanting “hang Mike Pence”.

Mr Pence’s criticism comes at a crucial time, as Republicans are scrambling to pick a lane when it comes to the insurrection that resulted in five deaths and 140 Capitol police injured.

Some in Congress still refer to the group — many of whom came wielding weapons, armed with pepper spray and zip ties — as sightseeing tourists exercising their First Amendment rights.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy recently provided Fox News host Tucker Carlson with archived security footage from the day, with the apparent aim of using it to protect and support the rioters' actions.

“Make no mistake about it — what happened that day was a disgrace,” Mr Pence said in his Gridiron Dinner remarks. “And it mocks decency to portray it any other way.”

Because the Gridiron is typically a jovial affair, Mr Pence also took the opportunity to poke fun at Mr Trump for keeping classified documents after he left office as well as his famously fragile ego.

“I read that some of those classified documents they found at Mar-a-Lago were actually stuck in the president’s Bible,” Mr Pence said. “Which proves he had absolutely no idea they were there.”

He also joked that the former president used to request that he be serenaded with Wind Beneath My Wings during weekly lunches. “Did you ever know that you’re my hero …”

Meanwhile, Mr Trump continues to spread debunked theories about his election loss. He has even spoken in support of the rioters and said he would consider pardoning them if he were to be re-elected.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: March 14, 2023, 5:23 AM