Mike Pence said he knew history would hold Donald Trump accountable for the Jan. 6 riot and also joked about the secret documents found at Mar-a-Lago at the expense of his former boss.
The former vice president and Trump loyalist’s comments are among the sharpest he’s made about the former president.
Mr Pence, who was once reluctant to confront Mr Trump, made the remarks Saturday night during the annual Gridiron Club white tie dinner in Washington, DC.
“President Trump was wrong,” he said at the event, which was attended by politicians and journalists.
“I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone in the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”
Speeches at the annual white-tie event are usually humorous affairs, with politicians lightly joking at one another.
Mr Pence began his speech by taunting Mr Trump, President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and several Republicans who are expected to run for president in 2024.
He joked that Mr. Trump’s ego was so fragile that he wanted his vice president to sing “Wind Beneath My Wings,” one of the lines of which reads “Did you ever know you’re my hero?” during their weekly luncheons.
He also took a shot at his former boss for discovering classified documents in raids on Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
“I read that some of these classified documents that they found at Mar-a-Lago were actually in the President’s Bible,” Mr Pence said. “Which proves he had absolutely no idea they were there.”
Mr Pence then said the “one thing” he doesn’t joke about is the riot and called it a “tragic day”.
He berated Republicans and right-wing media, which have been accused of trying to downplay the uprising.
“Tourists don’t injure 140 police officers by sightseeing,” Pence said. “Tourists do not break down doors to get to the Speaker of the House or make threats against officials.”
“Make no mistake, what happened that day was a disgrace and it makes a mockery of decency to portray it any other way,” Pence said.
Mr Pence’s comments come amid speculation he may announce his own candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, and the criticism is said to lay the groundwork for that.
In the days leading up to January 6, Mr Trump had reportedly pressured Mr Pence and wanted to use his position as head of a joint session of Congress on January 6 to declare the election results null and void.
Mr Pence refused his calls and as rioters stormed the Capitol, several chants of “hang Mike Pence” could be heard.
The House Committee, which led a full investigation into the attack, said in its final report that “the President of the United States had instigated a mob hunting his own Vice President.”