Mike Pence is fueling rumors of presidential aspirations as he steps up criticism of his former boss, telling NBC News Sunday that Donald Trump wanted him to commit treason by rejecting Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral votes.
Pence is on a book tour and is widely seen as laying the groundwork for a 2024 primary challenge to Trump, who declared his candidacy last week.
Pence: Trump wanted me to violate oath
Speaking with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Pence said he had told Trump “weeks” before January 6th, 2021, that he did not have the authority to intervene and stop Biden from being certified as the winner.
“What the president asked me to do, I would have violated my oath to the Constitution,” Pence said.
Pence appeared to blame the so-called insurrection squarely on Trump, saying the “fuse was lit” in November 2020 as Trump alleged the election had been stolen and began gathering lawyers who, according to Pence, told Trump what he wanted to hear.
Trump, whose Twitter account was restored by Elon Musk on Saturday, had exhorted Pence to show “extreme courage” in one of his last tweets before his account was suspended in January 2021.
States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
Pence’s not so subtle message
Pence has recently sought to cast himself as a traditional Republican alternative to Trump, whose hold on the party is being challenged anew following the GOP’s disappointing performance in the midterm elections.
In his memoir So Help Me God, Pence writes that Trump “decided to be part of the problem” on January 6th and that Trump’s “reckless words had endangered my family and all those serving at the Capitol.”
The day after Trump announced his third White House run last week, Pence implied that the Trump days are over, telling Fox News that Americans want a “new style of leadership.”
At the same time, Pence touted the accomplishments of the “Trump-Pence administration.”
“But I think there’s a genuine desire for leadership that could unite the country around our highest ideals and for more of the civility and respect that Americans show each other every day,” he said.