Mike Pence was unable to answer when pressed on whether or not Donald Trump can be taken at his word, by a persistent ABC News journalist in a new interview.
The conversation between the former vice president and ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Sunday quickly centred around the issue of whether Mr Pence generally trusts the words and public pronouncements of his former boss as Mr Trump looks currently poised for a dominant performance in the upcoming 2024 GOP primary.
And under repeated questioning from Karl on the issue of Mr Trump putting out a statement in the hours before the January 6 attack claiming falsely that Mr Pence would aid in his effort to overturn the 2020 election, Mr Pence would only say that he was “disappointed” in the former president, not that he did not trust him. He would not even specifically say that Mr Trump had lied.
“I’m very proud of the record of the Trump Pence administration,” Mr Pence responded to Karl’s first attempt at eliciting an answer on the issue.
“But is he a man of his word?” Karl shot back.
“On one issue after another, we kept our word to the American people,” Mr Pence responded, before going on a long diatribe about the Trump administration’s political record.
Karl then persisted: “I’m not asking you about the record. I’m asking you about the man.”
Mr Pence finally explained: “I said that at that time and I meant it. I was deeply disappointed with the president’s words and conduct in the days leading up to Jan 6, and on Jan 6.”
But there was no judgement from Mr Pence on whether his potential 2024 rival could be trusted overall; a question that is likely to be revisited if the two end up sharing a debate stage during the Republican primary season.
Mr Trump is highly unlikely to select his former VP as his running mate again, given Mr Pence’s refusal to overstep his constitutional authority on January 6. Mr Pence is thought as well to be preparing his own bid for the presidential nomination, as are other ex-Trump administration figures like Nikki Haley, who has already announced her bid, as well as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Mr Pence is currently only polling in the single digits in surveys of the hypothetical 2024 field. These remarks and others he made in the same interview are indicative of his continued efforts, in the months and now years since January 2021, to remain relevant in both establishment conservative and the pro-Trump circles of the GOP base as he plots future national ambitions.
In the same interview, he took a stand against Mr Trump being charged with a crime in the ongoing investigation into a hush payment made to a porn star in 2016; Mr Pence attacked Alvin Bragg’s office for pursuing the prosecution while “there’s a crime wave in New York City”. Notably, Mr Bragg’s office only has jurisdiction over the borough of Manhattan, and NYPD officials say the city as a whole is actually on a downward trend in terms of index crime.
Mr Trump has said that he expects and arrest and criminal indictment stemming from that case in the coming days.