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Pence under pressure and in danger

WASHINGTONThe House Committee is investigating the riot in the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, at a public hearing Thursday, focused on the pressure that then-President Donald Trump was putting on his Vice President Mike Pence to delay or refuse confirmation of Joe Biden’s election victory. The committee attempted to show how this pressure incited an angry mob to lay siege to the Capitol.

Pence, who led the certification in the traditional ceremonial role of vice president, did not back down. He declared Biden the next president early the next morning after Congress had resumed session and the rioters cleared. Lawmakers on the panel of nine and witnesses testifying at the hearing all described Pence’s decision as a constitutional crisis averted.

Findings from the hearing:

A VP UNDER PRESSURE…

Greg Jacob, an attorney for Pence who shrugged off pressure to go ahead with the plan, said in live testimony at the hearing that the vice president called him to his West Wing office for the first time in early December 2020 to seek clarity on his role obtain election results upon certification.

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But Jacob said it has become clear to the vice president that the Founding Fathers had no intention of authorizing any person, including a candidate running for office, to influence the election results.

“And our review of the text, the story – and frankly, just common sense – all confirm the Vice President’s first instinct on this point. There is no reasonable basis for concluding that the vice president has that kind of authority,” Jacob said.

But in the coming weeks, the committee said, Pence would come under pressure to invalidate Biden’s victory and find a way to keep Trump in power. While many White House staffers made it clear they disagreed with the scheme, a conservative law professor named John Eastman increasingly had Trump’s ear. He wrote several memos suggesting Pence could refuse voters or simply declare Trump the winner.

… AND IN DANGER

In a video statement, former Pence chief of staff Marc Short said Vice President Trump had said “many times” that Pence disagreed with the plan. But Trump kept up the pressure anyway.

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When Pence made a public statement on the morning of Jan. 6 stating that he would confirm the lawful results of the election, Trump told thousands of his supporters outside the White House that he hoped Pence would reconsider. The committee showed video from that rally, in which Trump said if Pence doesn’t pull through, “I’m not going to like him that much.”

During and after the speech, Trump’s supporters – hundreds of whom have now marched to the Capitol – focused on Pence. The panel showed video of the rioters threatening the vice president with violence if and when he refused to stop Biden’s victory.

In one video, a Trump supporter said he had heard reports that Pence had “broken in” and that if he did, they would “drag politicians through the streets.” As Pence evacuated the Senate and hid in the Capitol, rioters outside the building shouted, “Bring him out!” A fake guillotine was erected on the National Mall and people breaking into the building chanted, “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!”

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Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the panel’s chair, said when Mike Pence made it clear that he would not go along with Donald Trump’s plan, “Donald Trump incited the mob against him.”

WHO IS JOHN EASTMAN?

As Eastman gained the President’s favor, several White House staffers became distrustful of him and grew concerned about the potential repercussions of his proposal. But Trump didn’t listen to her advice.

The committee played a videotaped statement from Eric Herschmann, an attorney who was advising Trump, who expressed disbelief in Eastman’s legal theory that a vice president could overturn an election. “Are you out of your mind?” Herschmann said to Eastman, telling the committee in recorded testimony.

Herschmann said he warned Eastman that “you will cause riots in the streets,” but the professor dismissively said that “there has been violence in our country’s history to protect democracy or the republic. ”

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In a separate video testimony, Trump’s campaign aide Jason Miller said other aides told him they thought Eastman was “crazy.”

Jacob said even Eastman doesn’t seem to believe his own wild theories. “He said, ‘Absolutely, Al Gore had no basis for that in 2000. Kamala Harris wasn’t supposed to do it in 2024, but I think you should do it today,'” Jacob said of a conversation with Eastman.

Eastman was subpoenaed by the committee, but repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights during his interview. He has also sued to prevent the panel from receiving his communications during this time.

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Associated Press contributors Lisa Mascaro and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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For full coverage of the January 6 hearings, visit https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/16/jan-6-takeaways-pence-under-pressure-and-in-danger/ Pence under pressure and in danger

Sarah Y. Kim

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