Mike Pence has made his stance clear: January 6 was one of the most harrowing days of his life, and also he will not cooperate with investigations of the attack.
Speaking in a CNN town hall Wednesday night, Pence told Jake Tapper that the January 6 riot was “the most difficult day of my public life.”
He explained he certified the votes for President Joe Biden—against the wishes of former President Donald Trump, who continues to falsely insist the 2020 election was rigged against him—because his main loyalties are to his God and the U.S. Constitution.
Pence also condemned Trump’s actions that day, although he stopped short of explicitly placing the blame for the riot with his former boss. “The president’s words and tweet that day were reckless,” Pence said. “They endangered my family and all the people at the Capitol.”
But, somewhat bafflingly, Pence also said he will not testify before the House January 6 committee. He argued that a congressional committee summoning a vice president would violate the separation of powers, and besides, Congress has “no right” to his testimony.
He expanded on that in an interview with CBS, explaining, “I must say … the partisan nature of the January 6 committee has been a disappointment to me.”
The committee hit back at Pence, accusing him of trying to drum up press for his forthcoming memoir. “It is disappointing that he is misrepresenting the nature of our investigation while giving interviews to promote his new book,” committee Chair Bennie Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney said in a statement.
Representative Adam Kinzinger, also a committee member, took particular offense with Pence’s comments, accusing him of waffling on his duty.
If so, then his wishy-washy stance makes sense: In both the interviews and his new book, he sought to distance himself from Trump—a bid to moderates and independents—but stopped short of agreeing to actively work against the former leader, risking alienating Trump’s rabidly loyal fan base.