Kudlow Criticizes Trump for Handling of Riot, Treatment of Pence
By Andrew Restuccia and Bob Davis
WASHINGTON -- President Trump's top economic adviser criticized
his boss's handling of the riot at the U.S. Capitol and said he was
disappointed in the way Mr. Trump treated Vice President Mike
Pence, while defending the administration's policy legacy.
"I was hoping that he would come out quickly and make statements
calling everybody back and stopping the violence," White House
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said during an
80-minute interview with The Wall Street Journal. He praised the
video the president made earlier this week condemning violence,
adding that he wished he had released it earlier.
Mr. Trump, in a speech to thousands of protesters gathered near
the Washington Monument on Jan. 6, falsely asserted he had won the
election and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, where
lawmakers were certifying President-elect Joe Biden's electoral
victory. As the protesters began breaching security lines, Mr.
Trump criticized Mr. Pence on Twitter for not blocking the
certification. After hundreds had broken into the Capitol, Mr.
Trump called on the rioters to remain peaceful and avoid
But later that day, the president tweeted, "These are the things
and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is
so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great
patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so
Mr. Kudlow joined the ranks of administration officials who have
publicly criticized the president's actions in relation to the
riot. Three cabinet secretaries and several senior officials across
the administration have stepped down in the aftermath of the
The NEC director weighed the possibility of resigning in the
aftermath of the riot, but ultimately decided against it. After
speaking to other senior White House officials, Mr. Kudlow said,
"we decided we needed to do the work of the country in the last 10
days or so."
Still, he took issue with the president's rhetoric. He said the
president shouldn't have continued to argue that he had won the
election, arguing it was a mistake not to shift focus to policy
"Once the electoral college declared Mr. Biden to be
president-elect, we would have been better advised to acknowledge
that and to pivot toward talking about our positive achievements
and the policies that generated those policy achievements," Mr.
But Mr. Kudlow nonetheless made the case that Mr. Trump's speech
before the riot did not incite the violence and did not amount to
an impeachable offense.
Asked if he was frustrated by Mr. Trump's public criticism of
Mr. Pence, Mr. Kudlow said, "I was very disappointed in the
The president's assertion that Mr. Pence could prevent Mr. Biden
from taking office had little legal basis.
"The vice president's legal experts were very clear in providing
Mike with the knowledge that he had a very, very limited role in
the congressional certification of the electors and virtually,
except for a few extremists, the entire legal profession agreed
with Pence," Mr. Kudlow said.
--Alex Leary contributed to this article.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 15, 2021 17:41 ET (22:41 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.