WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence lashed out at former President Donald Trump on Saturday for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, widening the rift between the two men as they prepare to battle for the Republican nomination. in next year’s elections.

“President Trump got it wrong,” Pence said during remarks at the annual white-tie Gridiron Dinner attended by politicians and reporters. “He had no right to annul the election. And his reckless words put my family and everyone on Capitol Hill in danger that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump to account.”

Pence’s comments were the harshest condemnation yet from the once loyal lieutenant who has often avoided confronting his former boss. Trump has already declared his candidacy. Pence hasn’t, but he’s been laying the groundwork to execute.

In the days leading up to January 6, 2021, Trump pressured Pence to annul President Joe Biden’s election victory while presiding over the certification ceremony of the results. Pence refused, and when rioters stormed the Capitol, some chanted that they wanted to «hang Mike Pence.»

The House committee that investigated the attack said in its final report that «the President of the United States had angered a mob that was persecuting his own Vice President.»

With his comments, Pence cemented his place in a broader debate within the Republican Party about how to view the attack. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, for example, recently provided Tucker Carlson with a file of security camera footage from January 6, which the Fox News host used to downplay the events of the day and promote theories. of conspiracy.

“Make no mistake about it, what happened that day was a disgrace,” Pence said in his Gridiron Dinner remarks. «And it mocks decency to portray him otherwise.»

Meanwhile, Trump has continued to spread lies about his electoral defeat. He even spoke out in support of the rioters and said that he would consider pardoning them if he were re-elected.

Speeches at the Gridiron Dinner are often humorous affairs, where politicians make fun of each other, and Pence did a lot of that, too.

He joked that Trump’s ego was so fragile that he wanted his vice president to sing «Wind Beneath My Wings»; one of the lines is «Did you ever know you’re my hero?» — During his weekly lunches.

He shot Trump again over classified documents.

“I read that some of those classified documents that they found at Mar-a-Lago were actually trapped in the president’s Bible,” Pence said. «Which proves he had no idea they were there.»

Even before dinner was over, Pence faced criticism for his jokes about Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, the first openly gay cabinet member in US history.

Pence mentioned that despite the travel problems facing Americans, Buttigieg took «maternity leave» after he and her husband adopted newborn twins.

«Pete is the only person in human history to have had a child and everyone else has postpartum depression,» Pence said.