Mike Pence told special counsel he initially decided to skip Jan 6 proceedings, report says

‘Dad, you took the same oath I took,’ Pence says Marine son told him during Christmas break 2020

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 28 November 2023 17:42 GMT
Related video: Former VP Mike Pence Drops Out of 2024 Race

Former Vice President Mike Pence initially decided that he would skip the January 6 proceedings to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory before changing his mind.

Much of what Mr Pence recently told the office of Special Counsel Jack Smith are statements he has previously made publically, according to ABC News.

Investigators got ahold of personal notes that Mr Pence jotted down after meetings, including with former President Donald Trump, from the National Archives.

One such note reveals that Mr Pence had decided that he would skip the certification because there were “too many questions” and that it would be “too hurtful to my friend” before he concluded that it was his duty to appear.

At one point, the special counsel’s office asked if a comma in his recent book was placed correctly.

“You know, I don’t think I have the authority to change the outcome,” Mr Pence wrote that he told Mr Trump, later telling investigators that the comma was misplaced, sources told ABC.

The former VP and Indiana governor told the investigators that he intended to write that he rebuked Mr Trump, to say “You know I don’t think I have the authority to change the outcome” and argue that the then-president knew that his second-in-command was unable to use his authority to send the electoral votes back to the states.

In his indictment of Mr Trump, Mr Smith noted that Mr Pence said that his then-boss was aware of the restrictions on the vice president’s power.

Mr Pence became worried when Mr Trump began to ignore the guidance of credible White House lawyers to instead listen to the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

The former vice president told the special counsel’s office that there’s “no doubt” that Mr Trump “knew what I thought of those attorneys,” according to ABC.

On 21 December 2020, Mr Pence met with Mr Trump alone in the Oval Office when the legal challenges to the election results were not going well but the then-president kept falsely claiming, as he does to this day, that the election was stolen. At this time, Mr Trump had begun telling his supporters to show up in Washington, DC on January 6 for a “big protest” – a precursor to what would become the insurrection.

When Mr Trump asked Mr Pence what they should do, Mr Pence said he told him to “accept the results ... take a bow”, travel around the US to thank supporters “and then run again if you want”.

“And I’ll never forget, he pointed at me ... as if to say, ‘That’s worth thinking about.’ And he walked [away],” Mr Pence told the special counsel investigators, ABC reported.

In the indictment, the special counsel wrote that two days later, Mr Trump “re-tweeted a memo titled ‘Operation PENCE CARD,’ which falsely asserted that the Vice President could, among other things, unilaterally disqualify legitimate electors from six targeted states”.

But in late December 2020, Mr Pence remained “very open to the possibility that there was voter fraud,” he told investigators. Mr Trump suggested to Mr Pence that he skip the certification proceedings, the former VP told the special counsel’s office, according to ABC.

But Mr Pence told investigators that he “clearly and repeatedly” told Mr Trump that rejecting some votes would go against the Constitution.

“I told him I thought there was no idea more un-American than the idea that any one person could decide what electoral votes to count,” Mr Pence told the office in comments similar to what he has said in public previously. “I made it very plain to him that it was inconsistent with our history and tradition.”

On Christmas Eve, he decided that he would let someone else preside over the proceedings, before quickly changing his mind.

“Not feeling like I should attend electoral count,” Mr Pence wrote in his notes at the time. “Too many questions, too many doubts, too hurtful to my friend. Therefore I’m not going to participate in certification of election.”

Mr Pence was on vacation in Colorado at the time, with his son, a Marine, sitting across from him.

“Dad, you took the same oath I took,” the VP’s son told him, Mr Pence recounted to investigators, saying it was “an oath to support and defend the Constitution”. It was at that moment that he changed his mind, deciding that he would attend the proceedings.

During an earlier meeting with investigators, Mr Pence told the office that he’ll “never believe” that Mr Trump intended for January 6 to grow violent.

Mr Trump had pleaded not guilty in the federal Capitol riot case and he has accused Mr Pence of making “up stories about me, which are absolutely false”.

“Tens of millions of Americans, including Vice President Pence, as he repeatedly stated himself, have had grave and serious concerns about the legitimacy of the rigged and stolen 2020 Presidential Election, further proving that the lawless indictment against President Trump should be summarily dismissed,” a Trump spokesperson told ABC.

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