(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The January 6 committee says the rioters who overran the Capitol were within 40 feet of Vice President Mike Pence before he was escorted to safety.
President Trump’s public and private attempts to pressure Pence into blocking certification of President Biden’s victory were the focus of the committee’s third public hearing. The committee played numerous clips of Trump telling crowds Pence was the only obstacle to throwing out enough electoral votes to overturn Biden’s win, and exhorting the former Indiana governor to “come through for us.”
Pence’s chief counsel Greg Jacob testified he and Pence met in the Oval Office on January 4 with Trump and law professor John Eastman, the architect of the theory that Pence could either reject electoral votes outright or send them back to the states for a 10-day review. Jacob says he met with Eastman three more times. And Pence took a phone call from Trump the morning of January 6 which witnesses, including the former president’s daughter Ivanka, testified “became heated.”
The committee’s hearing was evenly divided between witnesses explaining the vice president has no power to reject electoral votes, and testimony suggesting Pence was put in danger by Trump’s repeated public insistence that he did. In a video deposition, Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short confirmed a New York Times report he warned the Secret Service on January 5 of fears President Trump was going to “lash out” at Pence.
The committee says Pence wasn’t part of the original draft of Trump’s January 6 speech at a rally which preceded the riots. California Congressman Pete Aguilar (D) says that passage was added after the Trump-Pence phone call, and Trump went off script to elaborate on it further. The committee played video of a marcher, now facing felony charges in the attack, vowing en route to the Capitol to “drag people through the streets” if Pence “caved.” Other clips highlighted the chants of “Bring out Pence” and “Hang Mike Pence” outside the Capitol
Two former White House staffers testified President Trump had been informed of the Capitol breach, and said they were discussing the need for a Trump tweet telling rioters to disperse, when he instead posted a tweet blasting Pence and declaring the vice president “didn’t have the courage” to reject electors. One aide described that tweet as “gasoline on the fire,” with an accompanying surge of violence.
Jacob and former federal appellate judge Michael Luttig testified the expectations Trump raised among supporters were for an action Pence had no legal authority to do. Jacob says he researched the issue in December after Eastman and Trump began pushing it, but says Pence “instinctively” recognized Eastman’s theory couldn’t be correct.
“There’s just no way that the framers of the Constitution, who divided power and authority, who separated it out, who had broken away from George III and declared him to be a tyrant — there was no way that they would have put in the hands of one person the authority to determine who was going to be president of the United States,” Jacob said.
Jacob and Luttig, a conservative legal icon whom Pence consulted before January 6, variously described Eastman’s argument as “crazy,” “insidious,” and unsupported by history, law, or precedent. Jacob testified Eastman himself acknowledged privately that the Supreme Court would probably reject the notion unanimously, while insisting otherwise publicly, including at the rally which preceded the riot.
After the January 4 meeting between Trump and Pence, the Trump campaign issued a statement in Trump’s name insisting he and Pence were “in complete agreement” that the vice president had the authority to reject electors. Jacob testified he was “shocked and disappointed,” and Short says he was “irritated” enough to call the campaign to complain.
Jacob testified Trump never called his vice president during the riots to see if he was safe. Asked by Aguilar how Pence and his wife Karen reacted to that omission, Jacob replied, “With frustration.”
Congressman Jim Banks: For all the Reasons That We're Impeaching Mayorkas, We Should Be Impeaching Joe Biden
ABC News president Kimberly Godwin: Donald Trump is “as racist as they come”
Delphi Police Warn Parents to Stay Alert After Man Takes Girls into Woods
Bill Passes Senate Allowing Banks to Make Changes to Deposit Accounts Without Obtaining Consent
A new Buc-ee's will be less than 2 hours from Indy
Nationwide AT&T Outage: Users Report 'SOS' Message Instead of Signal Bars
Gun Goes Off at Top Golf in Fishers, Indianapolis Man Arrested
Sunday Morning: Three Shootings Leave Two Dead, Five Injured