Former Vice President Mike Pence calls Trump’s Jan. 6 hostage rhetoric “unacceptable”

Washington — Former Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday that former President Donald Trump’s recent rhetoric about individuals facing charges related to their involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol are “unacceptable.”

“I think it’s very unfortunate at a time that there are American hostages being held in Gaza, that the President or any other leader will refer to people that are moving through our justice system as hostages,” Pence said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” “It’s just unacceptable.”

At an Ohio rally on Saturday, the former president took the stage to a song said to have been recorded by a choir of prisoners facing Jan. 6-related charges. Trump called the individuals “hostages,” noting that they have been treated “terribly” and adding that “we’re going to be working on that soon.”

Pence, who was a target of rioters on Jan. 6 for as he was set to certify President Biden’s win that day, told Margaret Brennan that he has “no doubt” that some people involved in the Jan. 6 attack were “caught up in the moment and entered the Capitol.” He then noted that those individuals are entitled to due process. But he added that “the assaults on police officers, ultimately an environment that claimed lives, is something that I think was tragic.”

“I’ll never diminish it,” Pence said. 

Former Vice President Mike Pence on “Face the Nation,” March 17, 2024

CBS News

The comments come after Pence said Friday that he will not endorse former President Donald Trump. He reiterated that sentiment on Sunday, saying that he “cannot in good conscience” endorse Trump this year. 

The former vice president noted that while Jan. 6 is among the differences between himself and Trump, the reasons he says he will not endorse Trump go further. 

“For me, the reason why I won’t endorse Donald Trump this year is because I see him departing from the mainstream conservative agenda that has defined the Republican Party over the last 40 years, and still has the best hope for the future of the country,” Pence said. 

Pence abandoned his own presidential campaign months ago, as his White House bid struggled to take off. The decision not to endorse Trump appears to be a departure from early in the primary campaign. At the time, Pence raised his hand during a GOP debate to signal that he would support the former president as the party’s nominee even if he were convicted of a crime.

Trump and President Biden last week became the presumptive nominees of their respective parties.

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