Defiant Trump Doubles Down, Blames Pence for Jan. 6 Capitol Riot

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First and foremost, let’s be clear. The storming of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, was indeed a riot, irrespective of Tucker Carlson’s selective airing of surveillance video, most of which was carefully selected to portray Capitol Police as simply tour guides who showed the “guests” around the place.


Now, of course, Nancy Pelosi’s carefully staged Jan. 6 Committee production selectively showed clips that made the Democrats’ case, as well. But neither portrayal presented the entire events of the day, and importantly, neither portrayal negates the other. Neither side agrees but it’s simply a fact.

Barricades were breached, Capitol windows were smashed, “protesters” initially pushed through doors against the wishes of Capitol security on the other side, and chants were heard outside the building calling for the hanging of the Vice President of the United States. Bottom line: January 6 in its entirety was not a “peaceful protest” — not even close — and no argument to the contrary will change that reality.

Now, let’s get on with the issue at hand.

As my colleague Joe Cunningham reported on Sunday, former Vice President Mike Pence has been fairly muted in his criticism of Donald Trump since the events of January 6, but in a speech at Saturday’s annual white-tie Gridiron Dinner, which is attended by political figures and journalists alike, Pence went after Trump over the Capitol violence, as well as threats made against the former veep’s family.

President Trump was wrong. I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable.

Tourists don’t injure 140 people by sightseeing. Tourists don’t break down doors to get to the Speaker of the House or voice threats against public officials.

The American people have a right to know what took place at the Capitol on January 6. But make no mistake about it; what happened that day was a disgrace and it mocks decency to portray it any other way.


Mike Pence was right. Ever-Trumpers disagree. That’s their right, but one’s “right” doesn’t make wrong things right.

None of this has sat well with one Donald J. Trump. As reported by the Washington Post on Monday, the former president has not only responded to the former vice president’s assessment; he now blames Pence for the Jan. 6 Capitol violence.

Trump, on Monday, did a double backflip off the denial board and blasted Pence’s assertion that history will hold him accountable for the attack on the Capitol, telling reporters that Pence himself should shoulder the blame for the violence committed that day by Trump supporters.

Had he sent the votes back to the legislatures, they wouldn’t have had a problem with Jan. 6, so in many ways, you can blame him for Jan. 6. Had he sent them back to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, the states, I believe, number one, you would have had a different outcome. But I also believe you wouldn’t have had “Jan. 6” as we call it.

Before we get to the meat of Trump’s comment, isn’t it interesting that he indirectly agreed that violence occurred on January 6? If not, what would he be blaming Pence for? 

Now this business of “sending it back to the states.” There is no such mechanism to do so, neither within the U.S. Constitution nor its Amendments, nor within the law. Period. Second, while untold numbers of Trump supporters oddly believe that Pence did have the authority to attempt an action that doesn’t exist, multiple constitutional scholars agree that such an action would have indeed been unconstitutional.


An objective reading of the 12th Amendment and the Electoral Count Act of 1887 should make this clear to anyone not politically predisposed to the reality out of hand.

So here’s the thing. You can disagree with the above assessment all you want, while others agree with it. But I’d venture a guess that some of the nation’s top constitutional and legal scholars are more qualified to make a sound assessment than you, me — or Donald Trump. Remember the axiom: For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.

Interestingly, Trump indirectly made reference to the Electoral Count Act during his diatribe:

He had the right to send them back, otherwise they wouldn’t have changed the Voting Act. They all said, “He didn’t have any rights at all, he was a human conveyor belt, he had no rights even if it was fraud.” And then the day after he did it, they said, “Now we’re going to change it so he doesn’t do it.” Meaning, you understand that, meaning he had the right to do it.


First, yes, the Electoral Count Act is a bit archaic. Key parts of the law are vague and imprecise. Clarifying the law has been on the agenda for more than two decades; none of this has been disputed.

In July 2022, nine Republicans led by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and seven Democrats led by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) unveiled bipartisan legislation to reform the ECA. That said, Trump’s assertion that “they” said “now we’re going to change it so he doesn’t do it” was categorically incorrect.


At one point, Trump said of his former vice president, who was arguably the most loyal member of the Trump administration:

I guess he figured that being nice is not working. But, you know, he’s out there campaigning. And he’s trying very hard. And he’s a nice man; I’ve known him; I had a very good relationship until the end.

Say, does anyone have an updated list of former Trump officials with whom the Donald “had a very good relationship until the end”? I haven’t updated mine in a while.


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