Washington— The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has turned its attention to former President Donald Trump’s campaign to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes Thursday, hearing testimony from close aides to Pence who said the president’s efforts to void the 2020 election were absurd and “un-American.”
“Mike Pence said no. He withstood the pressure. He knew it was illegal, he knew it was wrong,” committee chairman Bennie Thompson said at the start of day three. hearings on the attack on the Capitol. “We are lucky for the courage of Mr. Pence on January 6. Our democracy has come perilously close to disaster.”
Two advisers to Pence appeared in person at Thursday’s hearing: Greg Jacob, Pence’s former attorney, and J. Michael Luttig, a well-respected conservative jurist and retired federal judge who advised Pence in the aftermath of the 2020 elections. The committee also showed taped footage of interviews with Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, and other aides.
The testimony made it clear that Pence and his closest aides repeatedly told Trump and his allies that a theory pushed by a conservative lawyerwhich argued that the vice president alone should reject or replace voter lists, had no basis in the Constitution or federal law.
The committee presented evidence that Eastman himself knew the plan violated the law. Nonetheless, Trump continued to pressure Pence to intervene, including in a heated phone call the morning of the attack. Pence aides said the president’s insistence pushed the country to the brink of a constitutional crisis and put the vice president at serious risk of physical injury when mobs stormed the Capitol.
Jacob told the panel that he informed Pence in December that he had “no valid reason to conclude” that he could unilaterally reject the Electoral College votes, confirming what he said was the “first instinct ” from Pence. In his role as Senate Speaker, Pence presided over the joint session of Congress when it convened to count the electoral votes on Jan. 6, as required by the 12th Amendment and an 1887 law known as the on the electoral count.
“There is simply no way that the framers of the Constitution – who divided power and authority, who separated him from those who had broken with George III and declared him a tyrant – he would not there was no way they put in the hands of one person the power to determine who was going to be president of the United States,” Jacob said.
Short testified that Pence told Trump he wouldn’t turn voters down “many, many times,” but that the president wouldn’t drop the case. Luttig said Pence rejecting the Electoral College votes “would have amounted to a revolution in a constitutional crisis in America.”
The committee released an email Eastman sent to Rudy Giuliani asking for a pardon following the attack on the Capitol. Eastman invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination more than 100 times when he met with congressional investigators.
The second half of the hearing considered threats against Pence on the same day Jan. 6, when he refused to heed Trump’s call to reject voters. The committee said Pence came within 40 feet of the angry mob as he was escorted from the Senate to a safe location, where he remained for more than four hours before the Capitol was secured and that lawmakers have completed the counting of electoral votes.
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Post expires at 2:02pm on Monday June 27th, 2022