“I’ve never seen Pence as angry as he was today,” Mr Inhofe said.
Shortly after 2pm, pro-Trump rioters overpowered US Capitol Police and stormed into the chamber where just minutes earlier Mr Pence had been presiding over a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 presidential election results.
Mr Pence was escorted away from the chamber and taken to a secure location. Ten minutes later, Mr Trump fired off a tweet shaming his own vice president — who was under lockdown at the time — for refusing to bow to his demands to overturn the election.
“Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify,” the president wrote on Twitter, a post that was subsequently taken down by the social media platform for its gross mischaracterisations of the election certification process and false claim of widespread voter fraud.
“USA demands the truth!” Mr Trump added, although the truth about alleged “election fraud” is that it did not happen on a mass scale.
Several news outlets have also reported that Mr Trump initially resisted calling in the National Guard to protect the legislature as the mob he incited ran roughshod through the halls of the Capitol complex and occupied it for hours.
It took intervention from Mr Pence and national security officials to send in federal units.
Mr Pence was reportedly apoplectic as Mr Trump continued stoking the fire at the Capitol yesterday, telling the rioters he had great “love” for them (although he later told them to “go home”).
Mr Inhofe told the Tulsa World in his interview on Wednesday that he had a “long conversation” with the vice president as the Capitol was being cleared and secured.
“He said, 'After all the things I've done for [Trump]…'” Mr Inhofe said of Mr Pence’s private remarks.
For more than four years, Mr Pence has stood up for the president even during his greatest public controversies — from the Access Hollywood Tape, to Mr Trump’s refusal to admit Russian election interference in 2016, to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
But shortly before he was to gavel in the joint session of Congress on Wednesday, Mr Pence released a statement affirming he could not take “unilateral” action to block the Electoral College results, putting him directly at odds with his boss.
Congress eventually certified President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 victory in the electoral college in the early hours of Thursday morning after an hours-long delay as law enforcement cleared the Capitol of rioters and created a new perimeter.
Mr Pence called the Wednesday’s riots by the pro-Trump mob a “dark day” and said he condemns the violence “in the strongest possible terms” as the Senate reconvened at 8pm to certify his boss’ election loss.
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today: you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins,” he said in remarks that stood in sharp contrast to a short video Mr Trump posted essentially defending the angry mob he incited at a rally around midday. “And this is still the people’s house. And as we reconvene in this chamber the world will again witness the resilience and strength of our democracy.”
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