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Mike Pence criticizes Trump’s dinner with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Monday blasted former President Donald Trump for dining last week with a pair of anti-Semitic purveyors, Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, but stopped short of saying whether he thinks that should disqualify Trump from trying to regain the White House.

Pence, a former one-term governor of Indiana before joining Trump’s GOP in 2016, is considering his own bid for the GOP presidential nomination. But he said that the decision will not be made before the holidays.

He also said he has not made a decision to cooperate with the US Department of Justice in its criminal investigation into Trump’s actions related to the January 6, 2021 uprising at the US Capitol and Trump’s storage of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago. after leaving the White House. But he reiterated his position not to cooperate with a U.S. House panel looking into Trump’s role in fueling the unrest at the Capitol.

Pence appeared before about 300 people at the Union League Club in Chicago as part of a national tour to promote his autobiography, “So Help Me God.”

The book covers his life in politics, including his six terms as an Indiana congressman, one term as governor, actions in the Trump administration and the day on January 6 when protesters – some of whom threatened his life – tried to stop his role in overseeing Electoral College vote count that officially made Democrat Joe Biden president, despite Trump’s intense public and private pressure on Pence to keep him as president.

In his book, released earlier this month, Pence categorically stated: “Donald Trump is not anti-Semitic. He is not a racist or a bigot. I wouldn’t be his vice president if he was.”

But when asked where he would sit at the Mar-a-Lago dinner table with West, who goes by the name Yeh, and Fuentes, a young purveyor of anti-Semitic and racist white supremacism, Pence paused for a few seconds before answering. West grew up in Chicago and Fuentes from the Western suburbs.

“Let me say that I think that no president, no former president, no aspiring president should, under any circumstances, associate with anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, or white nationalists. That being said, the president was wrong to give these two people a seat at his table, and I think he should apologize,” Pence said.

Trump has made no apology.

Despite Trump’s actions, Pence said he still does not consider Trump to be anti-Semitic, noting that his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner and his grandchildren are being raised Jewish. Pence also said the Trump White House was the most “pro-Israel administration in American history.”

He also said Trump’s campaign and one-term administration have come under “vicious attack … from Democrats and many in the mainstream media who assume the worst in any situation.”

Pence has declined in previous interviews on the book tour to directly address whether he believes Trump’s integrity and character are factors preventing the former president from running for the White House again. He did so again on Monday when asked if he believed the meeting between West and Fuentes should keep Trump out of the presidency.

“I believe that the American people will figure it all out. They will, and ultimately the presidency belongs to the American people and they will decide. No person, no one in the media will decide who has the opportunity to lead this country,” he said.

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As he ponders his bid for the presidency, Pence finds himself walking a fine line of not trying to alienate the Republican base that still supports the controversial, belligerent former president, while promoting the policies the administration has adopted. Republican leaders are also questioning Trump’s hold on the party base and his focus on repeating baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election against a desire to move the party beyond the former president.

Pence, an evangelical Christian, said that before deciding whether to run for the GOP presidential nomination, he and his family “will take some time to reflect and pray and listen to our children, and then (wife) Karen and I’ll do what we’ve always done, and we’ll just try to respond in our hearts to what our calling is.’

“Whatever the calling is, we’re going to follow that calling because we love this country and I believe America’s best days are ahead,” he said.

Of his time in Washington, Pence said he was proud to be part of “one of the most consistent and influential Republican administrations in American history.”

But Pence also discussed Trump’s actions in the days leading up to Jan. 6. Pence said he repeatedly told Trump that he did not have the authority to reject state electoral votes under the Constitution, as the former president claimed.

On Jan. 6, after he, his wife and daughter were moved to safety in an underground parking lot after rioters stormed the Capitol building, Pence saw a tweet from Trump: “Mike Pence didn’t have the guts to do the right thing. were made to protect our country and our Constitution by giving states the opportunity to certify a corrected set of facts rather than the fraudulent or inaccurate facts they previously sought to certify. The US demands the truth!’

Pence said he “was angry, but I didn’t have time for it. I felt at that moment. I felt I had to put it aside and solve the problem. It was clear to me that the president decided to become part of the problem,” he said of efforts to stop the riots.

“In the days that followed, I really prayed for grace. The Bible says, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” But that’s easier said than done,” he said. “Forgiveness is not an option in my Christian faith.”

Pence said he spoke with Trump in the days that followed and was “honest with him” about putting his life and his family’s life on the line. Trump “expressed genuine remorse for what happened, genuine concern for my wife and daughter first and foremost. It allowed us to say goodbye amicably.”

“I will say now that a few months after we left office, when the (former) president went back to the same rhetoric on the eve of that tragic day, I just decided it was best for us to go our separate ways,” Pence said of the reshuffle Trump’s false statements about the stolen election of 2020.

“But as I told him and I say in the pages of the book, ‘I will never stop praying for you,’ and I continue to pray for the president and pray for the grace to live out my faith truly,” Pence said.



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