Former US Vice President Mike Pence said in a sharp rebuke to his former boss, that Donald Trump was wrong for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He that “there is no room in this party for apologists for Putin” as he further cemented his break from Trump.
“Where would Russian tanks be today if NATO had not expanded the borders of freedom? There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin,” Pence said.
“There is only room for champions of freedom,” he added.
During an interview on a right-wing radio programme, The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, Trump had called Putin a “genius” to “declare a large portion of Ukraine as independent.”
Pence said Trump was incorrect to think Pence could have taken action to reverse the outcome of the 2020 presidential election that Trump has falsely claimed was stolen from him.
“President Trump is wrong,” Pence said in a speech in Florida to the conservative Federalist Society. “I had no right to overturn the election.”
“The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president,” Pence added.
After losing his re-election bid Democrat Joe Biden in November 2020, the Republican Trump pressured Pence to block congressional certification of the results in an attempt to stay in power. Pence, a loyal lieutenant during the four years of Trump’s tumultuous presidency, opted not to block certification.
In the chilling events of January 6, after a fiery speech near the White House in which Trump repeated his false claim of election fraud and urged the assembled crowd to “fight like hell,” the mob marched to the Capitol and overran it in stunning scenes of violence and mayhem.
Trump was impeached for a historic second time after the Capitol riot, he was charged with inciting an insurrection, but was acquitted by the Senate.
The former president still dominates the Republican Party and regularly makes comments flirting with the idea of seeking a second term.
A mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in a failed bid to prevent Congress from formally certifying the election results. Pence was presiding over the proceedings and, along with US lawmakers at the Capitol, fled from the rioters.
“All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people,” Trump told his supporters during the Jan. 6 speech.
Later some of the rioters at the Capitol chanted “Hang Mike Pence” during the rampage and some set up makeshift gallows.
Trump at a rally in Texas on Saturday said that if he were to run for president and win in 2024, he would pardon people charged with criminal offenses in connection with the January 6 riot.