JUNE 16, 2022
Former U.S. VP Mike Pence tours the border in Arizona. – Reuters/REBECCA NOBLE
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The congressional committee investigating last year’s deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol turns its attention on Thursday to then-President Donald Trump’s multiple attempts to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
The House of Representatives Select Committee has scheduled a hearing for 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT), looking at efforts by Trump and some of his associates to convince Pence not to formally certify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 presidential election.
Thousands of Trump supporters – many chanting “Hang Mike Pence” – marched on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Pence met with lawmakers for what is normally a routine ceremony to certify the election. Some erected a gallows they said was intended for Pence.
The certification had become a focus for Trump, who saw it as a last-ditch chance to retain the presidency despite being defeated. His supporters flocked to Washington to rally with Trump, who had made repeated false claims that the election was stolen through widespread voting fraud.
Thursday’s hearing will feature testimony from Greg Jacob, who served as counsel to Pence, and retired U.S. Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig, who was an informal adviser to the vice president.
Videotaped testimony of former Pence chief of staff Marc Short is expected to be broadcast.
The hearing is the third of at least six public hearings this month at which the nine-member, Democratic-led committee will discuss preliminary results of its nearly year-long investigation of the events up to and on Jan. 6, 2021.
Committee aides said the hearing would discuss emergence of a plan advocated by Trump associates including attorney John Eastman that the vice president could unilaterally reject certified electors from disputed states. Pence refused to accept that theory.
“It’s a violation of the vice president’s constitutional obligations and constitutional law,” but Trump chose the path of “escalating” this violation, an aide said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, aides also said the session would look at the pressure campaign on Pence, driven by Trump. They promised new material documenting those efforts, with testimony from the witnesses in the room as well as taped testimony from some of the more than 1,000 depositions and interviews.
The committee intends to lay out a timeline of Pence’s day on Jan. 6, which could detail contacts with Trump and Secret Service agents who spirited the vice president to a secure location as the crowd threatened him.
The attack on the Capitol delayed certification of the election for hours, injured more than 140 police officers and led to several deaths. More than 840 people have been arrested and charged so far.
The onslaught marked the only time in U.S. history that power was not passed peacefully from one president to another.