Karl even gave Trump a second chance to denounce the rioters’ death threats, but the former president insisted Pence was to blame for refusing to overturn the election.
“They were chanting ‘hang Mike Pence,” Karl said in a recording released to Axios.
“Because it’s common sense, Jon. It’s common sense that you’re supposed to protect,” Trump replied. “How can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?”
The newly released comments amount to Trump’s most outspoken defense so far of the violent attack on the Capitol and some of his sharpest criticism yet of Pence.
Trump has staked his political comeback into rewriting the history of the Jan. 6 attack as a noble and largely peaceful protest of supposed irregularities in President Joe Biden’s victory.
He’s successfully rallied most of the Republican Party behind the false claims that the election was stolen and the even more remarkable defense of the violent mob that marauded through the Capitol hunting down Pence and other perceived enemies.
Trump dismissed reports that Pence was in extreme danger and was whisked out of harm’s way just seconds ahead of the MAGA mob, which chanted for his head and even set up a mock gallows outside the Capitol.
“I thought he was well-protected,” Trump said. “And I had heard that he was in (very) good shape.”
The remarks underline the ongoing feud between Trump and Pence, who loyally stood by the president during their four years in the White House. Pence broke with Trump over his demands that he refuse to do his constitutional duty by presiding over the certification of Biden’s win on Jan. 6.
Pence has sought to avoid conflict with Trump, but the former president’s refusal to condemn the efforts to kill him may complicate things as the 2024 election inches closer.
Trump makes no secret of his plans to run again for the White House and Pence also harbors presidential ambitions, setting them on a potential collision course.