House Minority Leader Republican Kevin McCarthy on Friday defended former Vice President Mike Pence after an audience heckled him and called him a “traitor” during a speech at a conservative conference.
“Mike Pence is not a traitor,” McCarthy said in an interview. “Mike Pence served as not only as a member of Congress [during] which I served with him, one of the most conservative members. He was the governor of Indiana. And he was the vice president, stood right by President Trump, helped him get through the tax reform, get those judges in. Mike Pence deserves a lot of credit.”
Pence was in Kissimmee, Florida for the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference when members of the audience began called him a “traitor” for not trying to stop the Electoral College vote count in a joint session of Congress Jan. 6 that cemented President Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.
Several hundred Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on that day and Pence had to be evacuated with other members of Congress.
A Capitol Police officer suffered two strokes during the riot, and military veteran Ashli Babbitt was shot by a Capitol Police officer inside the building.
According to The Hill, some of the hecklers were removed and Pence continued with his speech.
“It is great to be back with so many patriots dedicated to faith and freedom and the road to the majority,” Pence said. “I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
Trump has been critical of Pence’s inaction on that day, but the former VP said he has talked with his former boss since and remains proud of the record during their term in office.
"You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office," Pence said. "And I don't know if we'll ever see eye to eye on that day. But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years."
House Democrats voted to impeach Trump for a second time following the Jan. 6 riot, saying that he incited the crowd during remarks at a rally earlier in the day.
He was acquitted in the Senate, but not before seven Republicans, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, voted with Senate Democrats to remove him from office.
Trump supporters, however, are still angry at Pence for not doing something to stop the count.
According to a poll in May by Reuters/Ipsos, 53 percent of Republicans believe that Trump won the election and is the “true president.”
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