Pro-Trump rioters got just 100ft from Mike Pence during Capitol invasion

Mr Pence wasn't removed from floor of Senate until 14 minutes after rioters breached building

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
@GustafKilander
Friday 15 January 2021 21:45
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Vice President Mike Pence oversaw the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory on Wednesday.
Vice President Mike Pence oversaw the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory on Wednesday.
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Rioters, some of whom chanted "Where's Mike Pence?" and "Hang Mike Pence!", came as close as a 100 feet from the Vice President during the Capitol siege. Mr Pence and his family were hiding in an office down the hall when officer Eugene Goodman managed to lead the mob away from lawmakers. Mr Goodman has since been recommended by lawmakers for the Congressional Gold Medal.

Mr Pence and his family were taken to the office only a minute before the mob came up the stairs, 100 feet from where they were hiding, prompting the Secret Service to take them to a second more secure location. Mr Pence wasn't removed from the floor of the Senate until 14 minutes after the rioters breached the building.

If the mob had come up the stairs only a little bit earlier, they would have been able to see Mr Pence, The Washington Post writes.

For more than an hour after the Capitol Police chief let it be known that his officers were being overrun, Mr Pence presided over the Senate as they certified President-elect Joe Biden's electoral college victory. One of the rioters said in a YouTube video: "Once we found out Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election, like, officially, the crowd went crazy. I mean, it became a mob," according to the FBI.

A shirtless man carrying a spear and wearing face paint and fur left a note on Mr Pence's desk in the Senate chamber that read “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming,” according to court filings. He told investigators he thinks Mr Pence is a child-trafficking traitor but did not mean the note to be a threat, The Washington Post writes.

Rioters were focused on Mr Pence after he refused to try to overturn the election, something which the Vice President didn't have the constitutional ability to do.

“I realized at 1 pm, things aren’t going well. I’m watching my people getting slammed," outgoing Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund told The Washington Post. 100 officers rushed in to help.

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Also around that time, the House congregated for a roll call of the states' results, but objecting Trump allies sent Mr Pence and the Senators over to their chamber across the Capitol to debate the merit of the objections to the electoral votes of Arizona.

Mr Sund notified the necessary authorities that he wanted to call in the National Guard at 1:09 pm, and at 1:50 pm, the police commander at the scene declared that a riot was taking place.

At 1:59 pm, Mr Sund was alerted to that rioters had reached the Capitol doors, and video shows rioters finally breaking into the building through a window at 2:12 pm.

At 2:13 pm, Mr Pence was moved off the Senate floor. The rioters following Mr Goodman arrived at the landing 100 feet away from Mr Pence at 2:14 pm. The Secret Service guarded the door to the office where Mr Pence had sought shelter.

Mr Pence declined two recommendations from the Secret Service that they evacuate. The third time, he was not given any other option. Mr Pence and his family and his staffers were taken to a secure location within the Capitol using a path that would have been scoped out by the sniper team that travels with the Vice President to make sure it was clear, The Post writes.

Mr Pence stayed at the second secure location, which cannot be revealed for security reasons, until the end of the riot, despite other leaders being evacuated away from the building.

Hours later after the rioters had been pushed out, Mr Pence argued that lawmakers go back to the Capitol to finish what they started, leaving the secure location and returning to the Senate after 8 pm.

Mr Pence addressed the Senate before they restarted the election certification, saying: “Today was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol. We will always be grateful to the men and women who stayed at their posts to defend this historic place. To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the People’s House.”

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