In fact, the former vice president, who is typically reticent to talk about his experience on Jan. 6, 2021 — when rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the counting of Electoral Votes and chanted “hang Mike Pence” — seemed uncharacteristically open to talking about it down the line, perhaps in the memoir he referenced that is scheduled to be released just after November’s midterm elections.
“The American people have a right to know what happened,” Pence said. “And in the months and years ahead, I’ll be telling my story even more frequently.”
The Jan. 6 panel has weighed whether to formally seek Pence’s testimony for months, with members at times suggesting they would like to bring the former vice president in to hear his version of events.
There is one piece of evidence that only Pence may be equipped to provide: His responses to Trump during their final phone call on Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump apparently berated Pence for refusing to support his plan to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory at the joint session of Congress that day.
But the committee has at other points indicated it may not need to hear directly from Pence, whose closest advisers have testified at length and provided the panel with some of its most significant revelations. The panel declined comment Wednesday morning.
Two of Pence’s top aides, Marc Short and Greg Jacob, recently testified before a Washington, D.C., grand jury investigating efforts by Trump and his administration to disrupt the transfer of power. Their testimony to the select committee helped form the basis of a federal judge’s assessment that Trump had likely committed multiple crimes connected to Jan. 6.
Trump loomed large over Pence’s return to New Hampshire and to Politics & Eggs, an all-but-required stop for those with presidential ambitions visiting the first-in-the-nation primary state.
Pence minimized mentions of Trump in his speech, listing off the accomplishments of the “Trump-Pence administration” before urging folks to refocus on the midterms “because elections are about the future.”
“We need to do more than criticize and complain,” Pence said. “We need to unite our movement around the bold, optimistic agenda that will give real solutions to the American people.”
Pence’s only formal acknowledgement of the now-chilly relationship between him and his former boss — “it’s fairly well known that President Trump and I have had our differences” — was laughed away by a crowd packed with big-name New Hampshire Republicans including Fred Doucette, who chaired Trump’s New Hampshire campaigns in both 2016 and 2020.
In his remarks on Wednesday, Pence seemed eager to carve an electoral lane for himself distinct from Trump without disparaging the former president, who remains enormously popular and influential within the Republican Party.
“There’s no question from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump we have had our share of big personalities in this party, and I expect we will again,” Pence said. “But I must tell you, when I spoke to crowds large and small across this country, it was the ideas that created the roar, it was the commitment to those American values that brought people out.”
The former vice president is one of several high-profile Republicans – Trump included – to hint at a presidential campaign in 2024. Pence did little on Wednesday to dispel talk that he might mount a 2024 White House bid.
“I’ve never spent a lot of time in New Hampshire, but I may someday,” he said.
Pence’s message at times fell flat among the crowd of New Hampshire and Massachusetts bigwigs who gathered to see the former vice president. He received only a smattering of applause when he spoke of being a “small part of an administration” that appointed three conservative justices to the Supreme Court that sent “Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs.” Abortion rights are popular among voters in both states.
But he remains a draw for New Hampshire Republicans eager to help their party take control of the House and Senate this fall and hold onto power at the state house. Pence had several more stops in New Hampshire on Wednesday, including events with conservative candidates for the state legislature.
“He’s one of the top handful of nationally prominent Republicans, political Republicans, who can draw really good crowds of people,” Chris Ager, the Republican National Committeeman for New Hampshire, said in an interview ahead of Pence’s speech. “People want to hear what he has to say.”
Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.