Former President Donald Trump is firing back at Mike Pence after the former vice president lambasted Trump and his legal team over their alleged conduct on Jan. 6.

After a campaign stump speech at the Indiana State Fair on Wednesday, Pence criticized Trump’s “reckless assertion” that a vice president had the power to overturn election results and said he was surrounded by “a group of crackpot lawyers who kept telling him what his itching ears wanted to hear.”

Pence reiterated a statement he made the night before, in response to the federal indictment of Trump: that “anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be president of the United States.”

More: Speaking in Indianapolis, Pence lambasts Trump and ‘crackpot lawyers’

About an hour after Pence wrapped up his press conference Wednesday, Trump took to Truth Social to issue his retort.

“I feel badly for Mike Pence, who is attracting no crowds, enthusiasm, or loyalty from people who, as a member of the Trump Administration, should be loving him,” Trump wrote. “He didn’t fight against Election Fraud, which we will now be easily able to prove based on the most recent Fake Indictment & information which will have to be made available to us, finally ― a really BIG deal. The V.P. had power that Mike didn’t understand, but after the Election, the RINOS & Dems changed the law, taking that power away!”

Trump had been making that claim publicly ― that the vice president has the power to reject electors ― even before Jan. 6. But this isn’t true: the Electoral Count Act of 1887 limits the vice president’s role to a ceremonious one, making sure the votes are opened and read out. A bipartisan group of lawmakers passed the Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022, which added language clarifying that the vice president’s role is ministerial and explicitly saying the vice president does not have the power to be the sole decision maker on the fate of an elector.

Pence is navigating a complicated path to the GOP nomination against about a dozen other contenders, particularly since he alienated Trump’s base of populist voters ― both by refusing Trump’s wishes on Jan. 6 and by continuing to rebuke him on the campaign trail. The Trump base is loyal and makes up more than a third of the primary Republican electorate.

More: Mike Pence, a pair of overalls and the Indiana State Fair

Pence has spent most of his campaign time in Iowa courting Christian evangelical voters, and tends to focus his rhetoric on fiscal issues while reiterating his status as a staunch conservative on the social issues.

He didn’t mention Trump during his campaign speech at the State Fair Wednesday, telling reporters afterward that he wants to focus exclusively on the issues that he hears about from voters, like inflation. His comments regarding Trump were made to reporters after the speech.

Pence’s next challenge is making the debate stage. Pence said Wednesday he’s collecting about 1,000 donations a day on average and thinks he’ll make the threshold within the next 10 days.

Contact IndyStar state government and politics reporter Kayla Dwyer at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @kayla_dwyer17.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Trump fires back at former VP: ‘I feel badly for Mike Pence’

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