‘One day in January’: Mike Pence decries media focus on Capitol attack

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Bernadett Szabó/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Bernadett Szabó/Reuters

The US media is using the events of 6 January, when some in a pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election chanted “Hang Mike Pence”, to distract from Joe Biden’s attempts to pass his domestic agenda – said Mike Pence.

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“I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration’s failed agenda by focusing on one day in January,” the former vice-president said, speaking to Fox News on Monday.

On 6 January, Pence presided over the certification of election results at the Capitol. Recent reporting has shown that he considered a proposal to reject results in key states, throwing the election to Trump.

As the mob broke in, Pence and other lawmakers were hurried to safety. Trump was slow to call for rioters to withdraw. The relationship between the two men was reported to be strained.

But in a Republican party entirely beholden to Trump, Pence is now one of a number of senior figures seeking to balance fealty with his own ambitions.

He told Fox News: “You can’t spend almost five years in a political foxhole with somebody without developing a strong relationship.

“And you know 6 January was a tragic day in the history of our Capitol building, but thanks to the efforts of Capitol police, federal officials, the Capitol security, we finished our work.”

Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died around the riot. Officers have testified in Congress about their terror and injuries. The committee in question includes only two Republicans, dissidents who disowned Trump over the Capitol attack. More than 600 rioters have been charged.

Pence said: “The president and I sat down a few days [after the riot] and talked through it all. I can tell you that we parted amicably at the end of the administration and we talked a number of times since we both left office.

“But I believe that our entire focus today should be on the future.”

On Tuesday, the former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told CNN she did not believe Trump and Pence ever had an honest conversation about 6 January.

“I imagine Pence just went and said all the right things,” she said, “[but] I guarantee you that going forward, whenever Mike Pence and the former president are together, the president will continue to jab at him about how disloyal he was.”

Grisham also said Pence was not alone in being threatened at the Capitol on 6 January.

She said: “There were calls going to the White House saying, ‘My family is in danger, you know, what’s going on?’”

Pence told Fox News he would continue to campaign for Republicans in the gubernatorial race in Virginia and in other state and congressional contests.

Related: Stephanie Grisham: Trump ‘will be about revenge’ if he wins in 2024

The media, he said, “want to use that one day [6 January] to try and demean the character and intentions of 74 million Americans who believe we could be strong again and prosperous again and supported our administration in 2016 and 2020”.

Trump and Pence lost the popular vote in both elections, by nearly 3m ballots to Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine (in a contest in which 63 million people voted Republican) and by more than 7m to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Fuelled by Trump’s lies about electoral fraud, Republicans in battleground states continue to question results and to seek to restrict voting among groups which lean Democratic.

“I truly believe we all remain completely focused on the future,” Pence said. “That’s where I’m focused … I believe in the future.”

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