Trump threatened Pence in phone call before Jan 6 riot, new transcript shows

White House valet told House Jan 6 committee that ex-president said certifying the 2020 election would be ‘career killer’ for his then-VP

Andrew Feinberg
Thursday 21 March 2024 20:19 GMT
‘Violence never wins’: Pence condemns Capitol riot

A White House valet who was with former president Donald Trump on the day Congress certified his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden told the House January 6 select committee that Mr Trump threatened then-vice president Mike Pence’s future political viability in a phone call just before Mr Pence was to preside over a joint session of Congress to count electoral college ballots.

According to a transcript of the interview of the unnamed White House valet, the valet overheard Mr Trump telling Mr Pence: “Mike, this is a political career killer if you do this” as the two men spoke by phone while Mr Trump was in the Oval Office.

The valet also told investigators that he heard Mr Trump tell Mr Pence: “Do what’s right” and said Mr Trump’s voice at the time indicated that he was “disappointed and frustrated”.

The transcript, which was first reported on by The New York Times, also shows that the anonymous White House employee told the committee that he did not hear Mr Trump denigrate the then-vice president by calling him by a vulgar term used to refer to female reproductive anatomy, though several Trump administration officials did say under oath that Mr Trump suggested that Mr Pence would be a “p***y” were he to allow Congress to certify their loss to Mr Biden and Kamala Harris, then a California senator.

Not long after the call, Mr Pence’s office released a statement in which he announced that he would not make any effort to block certification of the election, leading Mr Trump to tweet to his 80 million followers on the site then known as Twitter that Mr Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution”.

Mr Pence has acknowledged that the phone conversation with Mr Trump took place but he has never confirmed any details of it. But at the same time, he has written about Mr Trump’s efforts to pressure him into trying to unlawfully prevent certification of their loss to Mr Biden and Ms Harris, including one conversation in which he berated the then-vice president as “too honest” and warned him that “hundreds of thousands are gonna hate your guts” and “people are gonna think you’re stupid” were he to not try to prevent the counting of electoral votes from swing states won by the Democratic ticket.

He has also written about his actions and feelings that day, when he was forced to flee the Senate chamber as a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and called for him to be hanged.

In his memoir, So Help Me God, Mr Pence writes that he “just shook [his] head” when he saw Mr Trump’s tweet.

“The truth was, as reckless as the president’s tweet was, I really didn’t have time for it. Rioters were ransacking the Capitol. … The president had decided to be part of the problem. I was determined to be part of the solution. I ignored the tweet and got back to work,” he said.

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