Former US president Donald Trump has reportedly still not healed the rift with his once-loyal deputy Mike Pence, which erupted over the latter's refusal to support his boss’s baseless election fraud claims and the Capitol riot on 6 January.
The mob that broke through police barricades to storm the legislative complex that day had been fired up by remarks made by Mr Trump and his inner circle at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC, insisting his election defeat to Joe Biden was the result of a mass voter fraud conspiracy his legal team failed to prove.
The event was scheduled in protest at a Joint Session of Congress convening to ratify November’s Electoral College results, formally recognising Mr Biden as the winner, a ceremonial duty traditionally presided over by the vice president.
In the days leading up to the Senate gathering, Mr Trump had urged Mr Pence to exploit his role to reject the results, piling on the pressure in a string of tweets and on the campaign trail in Georgia as he backed Republican candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Senate runoff races they ultimately lost.
“I hope Mike Pence comes through for us,” he said in Dalton. “I hope our great vice president comes through for us. He’s a great guy. Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him very much.”
As it became clear on 6 January that the vice president had no intention of attempting to overturn the result, chants of “Hang Mike Pence!” were heard to ring out across the National Mall among aggrieved supporters of the president, with armed members of far-right groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers as well as QAnon believers among their number.
At Mr Trump’s second impeachment trial, currently ongoing in the Senate, new security camera footage of the riot presented by Democrats has provided a vivid reminder of how close those groups came to encountering lawmakers, including Mr Pence, Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer and Utah’s Republican senator Mitt Romney, an outspoken opponent of the since-departed president.
In the aftermath, Mr Pence stood in for the president at Mr Biden’s inauguration before leaving office, joining the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation as a distinguished visiting fellow and holidaying in the Virgin Islands.
The ex-Indiana governor is reportedly planning to spend his time podcasting and writing columns for the organisation’s Daily Signal publication, promoting “strong national defence, free markets and traditional values” and lecturing on behalf of the Reaganite Young American’s Foundation.
But his feud with Mr Trump has yet to be resolved, according to a former aide who spoke anonymously to CNN.
The pair “discussed everything” concerning the events of 6 January during their final two weeks in office, the source said.
“He got his point across at the meeting afterward,” the aide said of Mr Pence, suggesting there were still hard feelings lingering between the two men, with Mr Trump refusing to say sorry.
“Time will heal things,” the aide predicted.
President Trump is said to have enjoyed the violent spectacle his rhetoric inspired and was “delighted” as he watched it unfold live on TV, initially ignoring pleas to intervene.
And he is yet to express remorse over the chaos in which five people lost their lives.
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