NEW YORK – Former vice-president Mike Pence said on Tuesday that he was angered by Mr Donald Trump’s conduct on and before Jan 6, 2021, but he took pains to avoid attacking him as Mr Trump geared up for a presidential campaign and Mr Pence considers one of his own.
During a 30-minute interview in New York City as he promoted his book, So Help Me God, Mr Pence deflected questions about Mr Trump’s character and declined to say whether the former president should be elected again, but suggested that he would not be supporting Mr Trump in the Republican primary season.
“I think we’ll have better choices,” Mr Pence said.
Asked how he responded to Mr Trump defending the people who chanted “Hang Mike Pence” at the Capitol that day last year, Mr Pence answered: “It is the reason why I decided that we should just go our separate ways.”
Recounting that he and Mr Trump had several conversations in the final days of the presidency following the storming of the Capitol and in the few months after they left the White House, Mr Pence suggested that their relationship was now dead. He said he was angry that Mr Trump endangered Mr Pence’s family that day with his inflammatory language about a stolen election.
And, he said: “In the weeks before Jan 6, I repeatedly told the president that I did not have the authority to reject or return electoral votes. It was clear he was getting different legal advice from an outside group of lawyers that, frankly, should have never been let in the building.”
The success of a Pence presidential campaign would depend on enough Republican voters who helped vault the ticket into the White House in 2016 seeking the former vice-president as offering the best parts of the Trump presidency, without the constant drama or chaos.
Mr Pence dotted his sentences with praise for what Mr Trump had accomplished, and repeatedly avoided overt criticism, his right foot tapping compulsively throughout the interview and his wife, Karen, sitting on a chair just outside the room, observing.
Asked what he thought of Mr Trump’s character, Mr Pence replied that the former president had, “apart from the ending” of the presidency, always been good to him and his family.
When asked if Mr Trump was a good man or simply if Mr Pence considered him as good as his word, Mr Pence replied: “I thought he was as good as his word, and I think the American people knew that.” NYTIMES