The former president and his second in command have been publicly exchanging barbs since the annual Gridiron Club Dinner over the weekend, and while some think former vice president Mike Pence speaking out against Donald Trump is an act of righteousness, MSNBC’s “The Last Word” host Lawrence O’Donnell says that he sees right through the ploy.
“Mike Pence,” O’Donnell said Monday night, is “a name that will always be synonymous with the most astonishing duplicitous weakness on display in Washington in the first quarter of the 21st century.”
Tensions between Pence and Trump began heating up Saturday when Pence, taking the podium at the Gridiron Club Dinner, said that “history will hold Trump accountable” for Jan. 6.
“President Trump was wrong. I had no right to overturn the election and his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable,” Pence said.
The comments sparked a response from Trump on Monday that implied Pence was actually to blame for the violence on Jan. 6. “Had he sent the votes back to the legislatures, they wouldn’t have had a problem with Jan. 6, so in many ways you can blame him for Jan. 6,” Trump said, according to The Washington Post. “Had he sent them back to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, the states, I believe, No. 1, you have had a different outcome. But I also believe you wouldn’t have had ‘Jan. 6’ as we call it.”
For his part, O’Donnell isn’t so much as taking Trump’s side as he is dismantling Pence’s own hypocrisy. The former vice president is, after all, intentionally holding back any opportunity for Trump to be “held accountable” in real time, no matter what his vague idea of “history” has in store.
Pence indeed recently asked a judge to block a special counsel subpoena asking him to testify about the events on Jan. 6, arguing that he is protected by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, which protects lawmakers from certain law enforcement actions during their legislative duties. He also said that serving as president of the Senate makes him a member of the legislative branch.
“Mike Pence does not apparently care that a federal grand jury is trying to hold Trump accountable right now for what happened on Jan. 6 and would like Mike Pence’s testimony to help them decide who should be held accountable,” O’Donnell said Monday. “Mike Pence is refusing to testify to that grand jury because he is Mike Pence, a name that will always be synonymous with the most astonishing duplicitous weakness on display in Washington in the first quarter of the 21st century.”
The host still said, however, that he envisions Pence touting the “history will hold Trump accountable” line in a hypothetical 2024 presidential bid to further distance himself from the embattled former president.
“Here is the line that Mike Pence probably plans to use someday on the Republican Primary debate stage in his losing presidential campaign against Donald Trump,” O’Donnell quipped.
Watch the full “The Last Word” segment in the video above.