Donald Trump pressured his vice president to join an illegal plot to nullify the 2020 U.S. election and sparked a mob that put his deputy’s life at risk when he refused, congressional investigators and former administration officials said. Thursday.
The House committee investigating last year’s attack on the United States Capitol noted how former President Mike Pence laughed at for not agreeing to the plan.
At its third public hearing on the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising, the panel described Trump’s “ruthless” press campaign on Pence — as the cornerstone of a criminal conspiracy to keep the defeated president in power.
“Donald Trump wanted Mike Pence to do something that no other vice president has ever done: The former president wanted Pence to reject the votes and either declare Trump the winner or send the votes back to the states to be recounted. said panel chair Bennie Thompson. said.
“Mike Pence said no. He withstood the pressure. He knew it was illegal. He knew it was wrong.’
Trump’s attorney John Eastman was the architect of the “nonsensical” plot, said commission vice chair Liz Cheney, who aggressively pushed the plan despite knowing it was illegal.
The commission showed testimony from Pence’s general counsel, Greg Jacob, who said Eastman admitted in front of Trump two days before the riots that his plan would violate federal law.
– ‘In danger’ –
A desperate Trump had asked Pence for help after dozens of legal proceedings against the election were dismissed in courts across the country.
The defeated president used rally speeches and Twitter to exert intense pressure on his deputy to abuse his position as Senate president and reject the election results.
Trump’s relatives were in the Oval Office on Jan. 6 when Trump had a “heated” phone conversation with Pence, according to first daughter Ivanka Trump’s statement aired during the hearing.
She said Trump struck “a different tone” than she had heard him use before.
Nicholas Luna, a former Trump aide, recalled in his own statement, “I remember hearing the word ‘wimp’.”
During his “Stop the Steal” rally later that day, Trump referred to Pence several times when he told his supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”
In Trump’s original speech, Pence was not mentioned, but he advocated berating his vice president in a move that Democratic committee Pete Aguilar says helped fuel the uprising and threats against Pence.
But Pence resisted, publishing a letter to Congress stating that the vice president had no “unilateral authority” to overturn the election.
Aguilar said an informant from the neo-fascist Proud Boys told the FBI that the group would have killed Pence if the opportunity had arisen.
The California congressman said the mob that stormed the Capitol came within 40 feet of Pence and “make no mistake about the vice president’s life being in danger.”
– ‘Quite shocking’ –
Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows told him about the violence erupting at the Capitol, but the president tweeted anyway that Pence didn’t have the “courage” to undo the election, aides told investigators in videotaped.
Immediately after the tweet, the crowd at the Capitol flocked to the front, the committee said.
The mob threatened to hang Pence for not cooperating when they stormed the Capitol and even erected a gallows in front of the building.
“What the former president was willing to sacrifice — possibly the vice president — to stay in power is pretty shocking,” Aguilar said.
The panel aired a video clip of a rioter who said he would “drag people through the streets” if Pence refused to undo the election.
The committee also heard from retired Federal Judge J Michael Luttig, who testified that the United States would have plunged into “a revolution within a crippling constitutional crisis” if Pence succumbed to Trump’s pressure.
Luttig, a renowned conservative lawyer, had advised Pence at the time that his role in overseeing the ratification of the election was purely ceremonial — and that he had no power to oppose the outcome.
“There was no basis in the Constitution or the laws of the United States for the theory advocated by Mr. Eastman. Not at all,” Luttig said.
Trump responded to the hearing by demanding that he be given “equal time” on the air to explain his false theory that the election was stolen — but opponents pointed out that he did not heed the committee’s invitation to to give evidence.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)