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Mike Pence does not see ‘eye to eye’ with Donald Trump on US Capitol riot

With an eye on a potential presidential run in 2024, former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at an annual Republican political dinner in Manchester, New Hampshire [Elise Amendola-AP Photo]

Former Vice President Mike Pence has said he and former President Donald Trump would probably never agree on what happened regarding the January 6 riot in Washington, DC, involving Trump supporters.

“January 6 was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol,” Pence said in a speech on Thursday to a Republican group in the state of New Hampshire, a venue for future presidential candidates.

“You know, President Trump and I’ve spoken many times since we left office. And I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye on that day,” said Pence, who downplayed concerns about what happened on January 6 amid demands in Congress for an independent investigation.

Pence was presiding over a joint session of the United States Congress to confirm President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win when an angry mob of thousands of Trump supporters overran Capitol police and invaded the building.

Some of them chanted “Hang Mike Pence” as they searched for legislators. Pence and congressional leaders had been hurried by Secret Service and Capitol Police to secure locations until the crowd was dispersed.

Trump has refused to accept his defeat in the 2020 presidential election as legitimate and continues to maintain without evidence the election was stolen from him. Republicans in the US Senate have refused to allow the establishment of an independent commission to investigate events of January 6, including Trump’s role in inciting the crowd.

“Thanks to the swift action of the Capitol Police and federal law enforcement, violence was quelled, the Capitol was secured. And that same day we reconvened the Congress, and did our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” Pence said.

Federal authorities have charged members of the anti-government Oath Keepers militia for their roles in storming the Capitol to stop the certification of Biden’s election. Approximately 440 people have been arrested in connection with the January 6 attack, according to the FBI.

Pence’s remark offers a rare separation between him and the former president and comes as Pence considers a potential Republican run for president in 2024. Pence had stood by loyally through four years of scandals and investigations during the Trump presidency.

“I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years,” Pence said

“And I will not allow Democrats or their allies in the media to use one tragic day to discredit the aspirations of millions of Americans.”

Pence praised Trump several times during his nearly 35-minute speech at the Hillsborough County Republican Committee’s annual Lincoln-Reagan Awards Dinner in Manchester, The Associated Press news agency reported.

Pence criticised President Biden for campaigning as a moderate but governing from the left and pushing massive spending programmes that would be paid for, Pence said, from higher taxes and cuts to military spending.

Pence hit upon several favourite themes of conservative Republicans, emphasising the need for states to shore up voter integrity around the country, according to the AP.

He praised law enforcement as heroes, saying: “Black lives are not endangered by police. Black lives are saved by police every day.”

He also pushed back against “critical race theory”, which asserts systematic racism underlies American society.

Republicans argue that claims people are inherently racist or that America was founded on racial oppression are divisive and unfounded. “America is not a racist country,” Pence said, prompting one of several standing ovations and cheers during his speech.

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