President Donald Trump did not speak with Vice President Mike Pence for several days after the siege at the Capitol.
Pence was in the building during the insurrection and was pursued by the pro-Trump mob over his refusal to interfere with the certification of the US election, a point Trump brought up to his followers several times.
Trump tweeted condemnation of Pence even as the president's supporters stormed the building.
On Wednesday, as a mob of his supporters staged a violent insurrection at the US Capitol, President Donald Trump was tweeting - not in support of the hundreds of members of Congress trapped within the building, but against Vice President Mike Pence.
While hundreds of Trump's followers forced their way inside the Capitol, the president took a few moments during the siege to attack the vice president, who had distanced himself from the president's baseless claims of election fraud and ultimately refused to challenge the congressional certification of the election.
"Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!" Trump wrote at 2:24 p.m. ET as the mob of his supporters was breaching the building.
Earlier in the day, he had discussed the vice president during a rally with supporters near the White House, putting the success or failure of his plan to dispute the election on Pence's shoulders.
"Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us," Trump told the crowd. "And if it doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country."
Trump's words had the effect of turning Pence into the enemy. Several insurrectionists shared online that they hoped to kill or wound the vice president, and chants of "Hang Mike Pence" could be heard throughout the Capitol during the riot.
Pence was safely ferreted off the Senate floor by the Secret Service and was hidden in a secure location during the attack, which left five people, including a police officer, dead.
"During the moment of the evacuation, he was adamant about staying in the building and not being taken away," Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, told Insider on Friday. "He didn't want to feel like we would allow that to happen in our country."
Trump's silent treatment of Pence called 'unconscionable'
The president and the vice president had enjoyed a relatively good relationship until recently - what Tim Phillips, the president of the libertarian group Americans for Prosperity, described to The Washington Post as "a durable, close relationship," despite their clear stylistic differences and beliefs.
But as Trump slipped further and further into the baseless belief that there was widespread election fraud, a rift grew between the two. Trump erroneously maintained that Pence had the ability to unilaterally change the election result, while Pence demurred in an 11-page letter sent to the president just before Wednesday's rally and riot.
"It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not," Pence wrote.
In the days since the siege, Trump, most likely still fuming from what he perceived as Pence's disloyalty, made no attempt to contact the vice president or check up on him, according to Reuters.
This did not sit well with aides, one of whom told The Wall Street Journal that avoiding the vice president was "unconscionable, even for the president."
But while Trump gave Pence the silent treatment, House Democrats made overtures toward the vice president and urged him to invoke the 25th Amendment, by which Pence and a majority of Trump's Cabinet could declare the president incapable of carrying out his duties. Those close to Pence played off the move as a nonstarter, telling Business Insider that Pence was doing all he could to avoid a further rupture within the Republican Party.
Joe Grogan, the former head of the Domestic Policy Council under Trump, told The Journal he believed Pence should get credit for ignoring the president's false election-fraud claims.
"If he had been replaced by someone as nuts as the people who have been surrounding the president as the primary advice givers for the last few months, we could have had even more of a bloodbath," Grogan said. "Imagine what would have happened if Pence was devious and vile and didn't stand up for the Constitution."
On Monday, five days after the Capitol siege, Trump and Pence were finally said to have met face to face. The pair had what a Bloomberg source described as a good conversation in which the two reflected on the past four years.
With Trump staring down the prospect of a second impeachment trial, the meeting seemed to indicate he would not have to worry about the 25th Amendment, with Pence perhaps taking up the mantle of loyal vice president once more.
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