Mike Pence, Intimately Familiar With Trump’s Plot to Overturn the Election, Says He’d Be Open to Talking to the January 6 Committee

There are few people as knowledgeable about Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the election––and the violent riot that followed––as the former president himself. But of all the disturbing characters who have passed through Trump’s orbit, Mike Pence, his former vice president, is likely one of them. In the run-up to the insurrection, Trump repeatedly pressured Pence to block the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College win, using various coercive tactics that included calling Pence a “pussy” and threatening, like a five-year-old, to end their friendship if Pence didn’t follow orders. When those overtures failed, Trump spent January 6 whipping his angry, armed supporters into a frenzy, telling them things like, “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so”; “All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people”; “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution”; and “Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you. I will tell you right now. I’m not hearing good stories.” Later, when the violence got so bad that the VP had to be evacuated to a secure location, Trump tweeted around that time that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.” After being told that the bloodthirsty mob was chanting “hang Mike Pence,” the former president allegedly informed his White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, that Pence deserved it.

Since then, Pence has, somewhat surprisingly, not had a single, solitary conversation with the congressional committee investigating the events surrounding the Capitol attack. But as we learned on Wednesday, that may change!

Speaking at an event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Pence said during a Q&A that he would give “due consideration” to a formal invitation from the January 6 committee to testify. In a taped deposition the panel aired on June 16, Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, said the VP told Trump “many times” that he had no authority to overturn the election results. During a January 4, 2021, meeting in the Oval Office, right-wing attorney John Eastman reportedly pressured Pence to either suspend the Electoral College vote count and ask willing state legislatures to reexamine their results or simply reject Biden’s win outright. It was at that meeting that Eastman, in the presence of Trump, reportedly admitted that he knew such schemes were illegal but urged Pence to go along with them anyway. So yeah, it would be great if the former VP could sit down with the committee for a little chat.

On the other hand, even if he does, we probably shouldn‘t get our hopes up re: Pence revealing everything he knows. While claiming on Wednesday that he’d consider an invitation to testify, he also suggested he might opt to avoid Trump’s ire by invoking executive privilege. “Under the Constitution,” he said, “we have three co-equal branches of government, and any invitation to be directed to me, I would have to reflect on the unique role I was serving in as vice president. It would be unprecedented in history for a vice president to be summoned to testify on Capitol Hill.” (As CNN, which reported Pence’s remarks, noted, vice presidents have, in fact, testified before Congress.)

While Pence is reportedly mulling his own 2024 run, which would clearly put him in conflict with Trump, the VP has made it abundantly clear over the last week that he doesn’t want to upset any of his former boss’s supporters. Responding to the legally executed raid on Mar-a-Lago, he tweeted, “I share the deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump. No former President of the United States has ever been subject to a raid of their personal residence in American history. After years where FBI agents were found to be acting on political motivation during our administration, the appearance of continued partisanship by the Justice Department must be addressed. Yesterday’s action undermines public confidence in our system of justice and Attorney General Garland must give a full accounting to the American people as to why this action was taken and he must do so immediately.”

On the other hand, at the Q&A on Wednesday, he reportedly told his fellow Republicans that the “attacks on the FBI must stop.” Which was big of him!

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