In an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Monday night, former Vice President Mike Pence vastly downplayed the attack on the U.S. Capitol building earlier this year, describing the event — in which five people died — as “one day in January” that the media is trying to use as a distraction.
Pence’s views don’t align with what most Americans think of that day, when a mob of hundreds of Trump loyalists breached the Capitol in order to disrupt the certification of now-President Joe Biden’s electoral win. In May, an Economist/YouGov poll found that a majority of Americans (56 percent) supported the idea of a January 6 commission investigation into the day’s events, while just 30 percent were against it.
Pence claimed that the work of the commission — and the media’s coverage of the commission’s findings — merely serve as a means to protect Biden from criticism.
“I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration’s failed agenda by focusing on one day in January,” Pence told Hannity. “They want to use that one day to try and demean the character and intentions of 74 million Americans [who voted for Trump].”
Pence did describe the events of that day as “tragic” — but he didn’t seem interested in placing blame on former President Donald Trump for what happened, even though Trump himself had encouraged his loyalists to blame Pence if Congress certified the results of the 2020 election for Biden.
As a result, hundreds of Trump loyalists attacked the Capitol, many of them chanting for Pence to be hanged.
Pence told Hannity that he and Trump have “amicably” parted ways and that they have talked a few times since that day.
It’s possible that Pence’s refusal to take a harder stance against the events of January 6 is because he may have considered ways to help Trump avoid being ousted from office. The book “Peril,” written by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, alleges that in the run-up to the certification of the Electoral College, Pence asked several confidants — including former Vice President Dan Quayle — whether he could avoid fulfilling his constitutional role to approve Biden’s win. Quayle reportedly told Pence he had no choice but to certify the results.
However, Pence did not take part in a scheme contrived by Trump lawyer John Eastman, who provided a means for the former vice president to ignore the election results of several states. Under Eastman’s plan, Pence would have recognized “alternative” electors sent by Republican state lawmakers to be counted in the Electoral College on January 6. This would have provided a theoretical pathway for Trump to assume a second term in office, even though Biden’s win was legitimate.