He said that history will hold the former American president accountable

Mike Pence: Trump endangered my family during Capitol storming

Pence stands next to Trump at an earlier White House news conference. Archival

Former US Vice President Mike Pence has criticized Donald Trump for his role in the January 2021, <> riot at the Capitol, which has increased the rift between the two men as they prepare to battle for the Republican nomination in next year's election.

Speaking at an annual dinner attended by politicians and journalists, Pence said: "President Trump was wrong, I didn't have the right to cancel the election. His reckless words put my family and everyone in the Capitol that day at risk, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable."

"Make no mistake, what happened that day was a disgrace. It is ironic that it is being portrayed in any other way."

Pence's comments are the sharpest condemnation yet of a former Trump inmate and loyalist, who often avoided confronting his former boss.

Trump has already announced his candidacy, and Pence has not done so, but with those statements he is laying the groundwork for the presidential race.

In the days leading up to Jan. 6, Trump pressured Pence to overturn President Joe Biden's election victory while certifying the results. Pence refused, however, and when rioters stormed the Capitol, some shouted 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 provoked crowds that chased the vice president."

Pence's relationship with Trump has been complicated since they left office, with Pence criticizing the former president's behavior but refraining from saying more severely. He also refused to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Capitol attack, calling the work of the Democratic-majority committee a bipartisan task they had already shared.

Pence's comments suggest he is prepared to distance himself further from Trump as the campaign for the 2024 presidential election heats up, even if that means losing the support of millions of Republican voters who still support the former president.