Pence says Trump was ‘wrong’ about Jan. 6 and that history will hold him accountable

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a Coolidge and the American Project luncheon on Feb. 16

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a Coolidge and the American Project luncheon on Feb. 16. On Saturday, Pence criticized former President Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Donald Trump was “wrong” on Jan. 6, 2021, and history will hold him accountable for it.

That was the message former Vice President Mike Pence delivered at a Washington, D.C., dinner on Saturday night, in what amounted to his most forceful rebuke to date of the former president.

Pence laid into Trump for his efforts to pressure him into blocking the certification of the 2020 election results on Jan. 6, when he told supporters near the White House that he hoped Pence would “do the right thing.” Protesters who later marched to the Capitol turned violent and stormed the building where the vote count was being certified. Some chanted “Hang Mike Pence.”

“His reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day,” Pence said.

In the lead up to the violence, Trump and other election deniers called on Pence to reject key states and refuse Biden the electoral votes he needed to clinch the victory, but Pence refused.

“I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable,” Pence said.

The former vice president delivered his remarks at the Gridiron Dinner, an annual white-tie event thrown by journalists in the nation’s capital. His comments came amid speculation that Pence is weighing a 2024 presidential bid, a move that would pit him in direct competition with Trump, who announced his own run in November.

Pence has condemned the violence on Jan. 6 but had previously not been so critical of Trump, saying instead in the past that he and Trump may never see “eye to eye” about what happened that day.

The former vice president has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury seeking his testimony regarding the events of Jan. 6, but Pence has asked a federal judge to block it, CNN reported.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal