The latest public hearing in the US congressional committee’s investigation into the Capitol riots focused on former President Donald Trump’s push to pressure his vice president to overthrow the 2016 election. 2020.
Committee co-chair Liz Cheney said ahead of Thursday’s session that the panel would focus on trumpet“relentless efforts” to put pressure on Mike Pence “both in private and in public”.
“Vice President Pence has demonstrated his loyalty to Donald Trump consistently for four years, but he knows he has a higher obligation to the United States Constitution,” Cheney said last week.
What actions did Pence take on January 6 and the days before that? And what pressure was he under?
Here’s what we know:
Trump’s frantic push to claim victory
Like Trump frantic efforts to prevent failure thwarted by courts and public officials, he and his allies withdrew on January 6 – the date on which a joint session of Congress would be convened to formalize the victory of the President. President-elect Joe Biden – is their last chance to stay in power.
The heavy pressure campaign increased in the days leading up to January 6 as Trump, his attorney John Eastman and others in Trump’s orbit tried to convince Pence that he had the power to overturn the will of voters. in some important battlefield countries by simply refusing Electoral College ballot or send the results back to the states – although the Constitution makes clear the vice president’s role in the proceedings is largely ceremonial.
Pence spent hours discussing it with staff members, including his general counsel, Greg Jacob. He studied the Voter Count Act of 1887, which regulates procedures, and met with members of the Senate to understand his role. He also received advice from outside, including from former Vice President Dan Quayle.
Several aides have urged Trump not to put his staunchly loyal vice president in such a precarious position. Pence has been seen by many as a potential future presidential candidate, and a public rift with Trump is seen as a potential end-of-career sign. But Trump continues to push, both publicly and behind the scenes.
On January 4, Eastman and Trump pressed Pence to implement the plan during a meeting in the Oval Office. And at a rally that night in Georgia, Trump said his fate was in his vice president’s hands. “I hope Mike Pence gets us through,” he told the crowd.
Trump continued to push ahead with the Oval Office meeting the next day, again asking Pence to use powers the vice president did not have to overturn the will of the voters. Pence made it clear he was not convinced.
‘Mike Pence Cave’
The pressure continued throughout the night. “If Vice President @Mike_Pence passes us by, we will win the Presidency,” Trump tweeted at around 1am.
“All Mike Pence had to do was send them back to the USA, AND WE WIN,” he wrote later that morning. “Do it Mike, it’s time for ultimate bravery!”
Pence was at his residence at the Naval Observatory on the morning of January 6 when he last spoke to Trump, who was joined by his daughter Ivanka and Pence’s national security adviser Keith Kellogg. Oval Room.
During the call, at 11 a.m., Trump berated Pence, chastising him for not being tough enough to carry out the plan, according to Kellogg’s testimony before the committee.
Pence then went to the Capitol to oversee the counting of votes by the electors. But first, Pence made his decision officially. In a letter to his colleagues in Congress, Pence explained why he could not go with Trump’s plan.
“It is my deliberate judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution has limited me from claiming a unilateral right to determine which electoral votes should count and which should not,” he wrote. “.
US Senate attentively in session
At 1:03 p.m., he formally brought the U.S. Senate into session as pro-Trump rioters, who had breached the Capitol’s fence, were clashing outside with police.
At the time, Trump was nearing the end of his Ellipse speech in which he repeatedly targeted Pence and appeal to his supporters to “fight like hell”.
“If Mike Pence does the right thing, we will win the election,” Trump told the crowd deceitfully. “All Vice President Pence had to do was send it back to the states for recertification and we became president and you are the happiest.”
Outside the Capitol, the scene turned to violent chaos as rioters, some armed with hoses, bats and bear spray, stormed the Capitol, quickly overpowering police.
At about 2:12 p.m., Pence was dashed off the Senate floor as rioters swarmed inside. The Washington Post first reported that Pence, who joined that same day with his wife and daughter, was at one point less than 100 feet away from a group of protesters.
Pence went into hiding
Pence spent the next hours in hiding with his staff and family — first in his ceremonial office and then in a subway station inside the Capitol complex. At some point, he refused pleas from security personnel to leave, insisting that it was important for him to stay where he was.
“He looked at it and said, ‘I don’t want the world to see the vice president leave the Capitol in a convoy of 15 cars,'” Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, told CNN Wednesday. “’This is the sign of democracy and we will get our job done. ‘”
But even as the horror was broadcast live on television, Trump, instead of urging his supporters to go home, blasted Pence.
“Mike Pence just didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to defend our Country and our Constitution, giving the States an opportunity to certify a series of facts as corrected, not false or inaccurate facts to which they have been asked to certify in the past,” Trump tweeted at 2:24 pm.
Trump’s tweet echoed through the angry crowd. Footage obtained by the committee showed rioters reading Trump’s words aloud and crowds rushing in chanting “Mike Pence Cave!” A makeshift gallows was photographed outside.
Cheney alleged that Trump knew about the exhortations and “replied with this sentiment: ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea.’ Mike Pence ‘deserves it.’ “Trump responded on his social media app, saying he ‘Never said, or even thought of saying,’ Hang Mike Pence.”
Calling on US legislators
Pence controlled the phone from his then secret location.
Short told Fox Business that Pence’s first calls were to Republican and Democratic leaders and the Senate — Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer — “to make sure they were safe and sound. secure and make sure their functions are fine.”
Pence also “contacted the Pentagon to make sure we send more reinforcements” to the encouragement of House and Senate leaders, who made it clear in subsequent calls that they were disappointed by the force. The National Guard did not come.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the committee in testimony that military leaders spoke two or three times with Pence and that the vice president was “very vivacious, very direct. , very adamant with [Acting Defense] Secretary [Christopher] Miller”.
“Put down the army, bring the Guard down here. Let’s get rid of this situation, and so on,” recalls Milley.
Indeed, at 4:08 p.m., Pence made an emergency call from the Capitol when rioters attacked police and vandalized the building, informing Miller that the Capitol was unsafe and demanding that the led the military for a deadline to defend the building, according to a document prepared by the Pentagon for internal use obtained by the Associated Press.
“Clean up the Capitol,” Pence told them.
Milley told the committee that Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had a different focus when they also spoke. “He said: We have to kill the narrative that the vice president is making all the decisions. You know, we need to establish the narrative that the president is still in power and things are settling down or settling down, or the words to that effect,” Milley testified.
Pence reconvenes the Senate
At 8 p.m., after hours of fear and carnage, the Capitol was finally deemed safe.
Pence reconvened the Senate with a text message.
“Today is a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol. But thanks to the swift efforts of the US Capitol Police, federal, state and local law enforcement, the violence was quelled. The Capitol is secured. And the work of the people continues,” he told the nation. “Get back to work,” he said to applause.
Just after 3:40 a.m., Pence officially declared Trump’s election defeat – as well as his own.