Mike Pence Blames Trump's Jan. 6 Actions on 'Bad Advice From Lawyers'

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday made an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press in which he gave his view on what led to last year's riot at the U.S. Capitol building.

Pence, the former governor of Indiana, has been making the rounds to various news programs and outlets to promote his new book, So Help Me God. During his Sunday interview, host Chuck Todd pressed him about whether or not he believes that former President Donald Trump "committed a criminal act in fomenting the insurrection."

In response, Pence put the focus on Trump's lawyers, who he said gave the former president "bad advice" that ultimately led to the January 6 riot.

"Well, I don't know if it is criminal to listen to bad advice from lawyers," Pence said. "The truth is, what the president was repeating is what he was hearing from that gaggle of attorneys around him. Presidents, just like all of us that have served in public life, you have to rely on your team, you have to rely on the credibility of the people around you. So, as time goes on, I hope we can move beyond this, beyond that prospect. And this is really a time when our country ought to be healing."

Counter to Pence's take on the situation, the investigation into the insurrection by the House select committee found evidence that Trump knowingly pursued "illegal" means to overturn the 2020 presidential election and was advised against such plans by trustworthy sources. This included a call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger a few days prior to January 6 last year, in which he pressured the official to "find 11,780 votes" to overturn Biden's victory in the state. Trump is now facing a probe into his alleged election tampering in Georgia, which some legal experts believe could lead to criminal charges.

"President Trump knew from unassailable sources that his election fraud claims were false," Committee Vice Chair Representative Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, said at the concluding hearing last month. "There is no defense that Donald Trump was duped or irrational."

Comp Image, Pence & Jan 06 Riots
In this combination photo, Former Vice President Mike Pence (Inset) visits "Fox & Friends" at Fox News Channel studios on November 16, 2022 and Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Getty

While never absolving Trump of his responsibility in pushing unfounded election fraud claims, the committee did, in earlier hearings, reveal advice that the former president got from lawyer John Eastman. After various failed attempts to have results thrown out in court and to pressure state officials, the committee said that Eastman presented Trump with a memo detailing the possibility that Pence could overturn the electoral results during the certification process in Washington, D.C.

This last-ditch effort to subvert the election ultimately led to the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally last year, which led directly to the riot at the Capitol. Those who took part in the attack said that they intended to commit violence against the then-vice president for not going along with the plan first suggested by Eastman, with many being heard chanting "Hang Mike Pence."

Newsweek reached out to House select committee leadership for comment.