WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – House committee investigating the Capitol rebellion Then-President Donald Trump used his latest public hearing on Thursday to pressure his Vice President Mike Pence to delay or deny certification of Joe Biden’s election victory on January 6, 2021. The committee is trying to show how that pressure provoked a violent mob to lay siege to the Capitol that day.
Pence, who presided over the certification in the traditional ceremonial role of vice president, did not give up. He declared Biden the next president. The next morning, after the Congress session resumed, more rioters were dispersed.
Lawmakers on the nine-member panel and witnesses who testified at the hearing described Pence’s decision as averting a constitutional crisis.
Highlights of the committee’s third public hearing this month:
Under the pressure of the Vice President…
Pence’s lawyer, Greg Jacob, who faced pressure to execute the plansaid in live testimony at the hearing that the Vice President had called him for the first time in his West Wing office in early December 2020 for clarity about his role in the verification of election results.
Jacob said it was clear to the Vice President that the Founding Fathers did not intend to empower any one individual to influence election results.
“And the text, our review of history – and frankly, mere common sense – all confirm the first instincts of the Vice President to the point that there is no reasonable basis for concluding that the Vice President has that kind of authority, ” said Jacob.
But in the coming weeks, the committee said, Pence would come under pressure from Trump. To find a way to invalidate Biden’s victory and keep the president in power. While many White House aides clarified that they did not agree with the plan, a conservative law professor named John Eastman Trump had ears fast. He wrote several memos suggesting that Pence could dissuade voters or simply declare Trump the winner.
…and in danger
In a video testimony, Pence’s former chief of staff, Mark Short, said the vice president told Trump “multiple times” that Pence did not agree with the idea. But Trump kept the pressure up anyway.
On the morning of January 6, as Pence issued a public statement making it clear that he would testify to the legitimate results of the election, Trump told thousands of his supporters in front of the White House that he hoped Pence would reconsider. The committee showed video of the rally in which Trump said if Pence didn’t come, “I wouldn’t like him that much.”
The committee claims that continued pressure from Trump put Pence in immediate danger when rioters marched to the Capitol and shouted for his death.
In a video played by the committee, a Trump supporter said he had heard reports that Pence had “caveted out” and was about to “drag politicians into the streets” if he did. As Pence vacated the Senate and hid in the Capitol, the rioters in front of the building chanted “Bring him out!” Slogan. A fake guillotine was constructed on the National Mall, and as people entered the building, people chanted “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! ,
Trump continued to put pressure on Pence, even as his supporters stormed the building, tweeting that Pence “lacked courage.”
“Donald Trump turned the crowd on him,” said Mississippi Representative Benny Thompson, the chair of the panel.
a close call to the capitol
As the rioters ransacked, Pence hastily vacated his position, presiding over the Senate. California Representative Pete Aguilar, a Democrat on the committee that led Thursday’s hearing, told Jacob that the group was at one point only 40 feet from the rioters.
Jacob, who was with Pence at the time, said he had evacuated the violent crowd, but did not know they were so close.
The committee also showed never-before-seen photos of Pence after moving to a safe location at the Capitol, including a photo of him reading out a tweet from Trump.
Jacob said Secret Service agents wanted him to leave the building but Pence refused to get in the car.
Jacob said “the vice president didn’t want to take any chances” that the world would see him leave the Capitol.
A ‘hot’ phone call and a presidential threat
The committee shed some new light on a phone call between Trump and Pence on the morning of January 6.Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, said the conversation was “very heated” and “had a different tone from what I had heard him take with the first vice president.”
In other taped interviews, colleagues narrated portions of the conversation. Trump’s personal aide Nicholas Luna said he had heard the word “wimp”. Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff, Julie Radford, said she was told by the president to call Pence the “P-word”.
Jacob said that when Pence returned with Trump’s phone, he was there. Jacob said the vice president was “sly, determined, serious”.
In the hours after, Trump took to the rally stage and criticized the Vice President for his thousands of supporters. Aguilar said the committee found that Trump had modified the speech to include criticism of Pence.
an illegal scheme
Aguilar called Eastman’s plan, which was extended by lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others, “a legally and morally bankrupt idea.”
After writing a memo challenging the country’s election laws in December and calling on state voters on a call, Jacob said Eastman laid out his theory at a January 4 meeting with Trump, Pence and a small group of aides.
Eastman said Pence, as the presiding officer, could reject the vote outright. Alternatively, he can “suspend the proceedings and declare a compulsorily 10-day holiday” during which the results will be sent back to certain state legislatures. Eastman said he preferred the second option, Jacob said.
The next morning, on January 5, Eastman had changed his mind, Jacob said. He went to a meeting and said, “I am here to request that you reject the voters.”
Pence never wavered, Jacob said.
Retired federal judge Michael Luttig, who spoke to Pence’s employees before the rebellion, also testified at the hearing. He added that if Pence had declared Trump president, it would “consider America a revolution within a constitutional crisis.”
As Eastman gained the president’s favor, many White House aides became concerned about the potential implications of what he was proposing. But Trump did not heed his advice.
The committee ran the videotaped testimony of White House counsel Eric Hershman, who expressed disbelief in Eastman’s legal theory that a vice president could reverse an election. “Are you out of your fickle mind?” Hershman said he told the professor that he should get a good lawyer.
Trump campaign aide Jason Miller said aides had told him they thought Eastman was “crazy.”
Eastman was summoned by the committeeBut he repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights during his in-camera interview with the panel last year. He has also sued the panel to prevent him from receiving many of his communications in time.
turn to their faith
Pence is a deeply religious personAnd Jacob’s testimony spoke of the vice president’s faith — and his own — as events unfolded.
In a discussion, Jacob said, Pence told him: “I can’t wait to go to heaven and meet the makers, and tell them that the work you have done in putting our Constitution together is a work of genius. ”
Pence and his colleagues began on January 6 by praying together at the Vice President’s home. And when they stopped at an undisclosed location later in the day, Jacob said he pulled out a Bible, read a verse about a second in command that disobeyed an order he couldn’t obey. He said he “took a lot of rest” en route.
Short said in his videotaped interview that he recited a Bible verse to Pence at the end of the day.
“I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith,” the passage read.
Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.
For full coverage of the January 6 hearing, visit https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege.