Donald Trump told Mike Pence he was being “too honest” when the former vice president said he didn’t have the power to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory amidst intense pressure, he wrote in his memoir.
Giving a first-hand extensive account of his exchanges with Mr Trump after the election and during the 6 January riots on Capitol, Mr Pence wrote that the then-president said his supporters would “hate his guts” and urged him not to “wimp out” to go down as a figure in history.
“‘You’re too honest,’” Mr Pence recalled Mr Trump told him in early January 2021. “‘Hundreds of thousands are gonna hate your guts. … People are gonna think you’re stupid.’”
Mr Pence’s book, So Help Me God, is slated to be published in the US on 15 November. An extract from the book was published by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
Mr Trump is widely expected to launch his second presidential run on the same day after he said he will make a very big announcement. However, he is being urged by his allies to wait until the Georgia run-off following setbacks in midterm elections.
Mr Pence recounted how he was repeatedly admonished by the former president for refusing to unilaterally sway the results of the election.
“‘You can be a historic figure, but if you wimp out, you’re just another somebody,’” Mr Pence said he told him after the 2020 election. “If you do that, I made a big mistake five years ago!”
Giving dramatic details of Mr Trump’s dealings with John Eastman, Mr Pence wrote that the conservative lawyer “stammered” when he suggested that it was “an open question” when asked if Mr Pence had the authority to reject votes.
He said that he later found out that Mr Eastman too conceded that rejecting electoral votes was “a bad idea” and any attempt to do so would be quickly overturned by a unanimous Supreme Court.
The vice president also revealed details about the moments when they were trying to escape the rioters who had breached the Capitol when he was presiding over the certification on 6 January.
Mr Pence said when he first saw “protesters standing peacefully” he “felt compassion for all the good people who had travelled to Washington having been told that the outcome of the election could be changed”.
“I turned to my daughter and sighed: ‘God bless those people. They’re gonna be so disappointed,’” Mr Pence spoke about hours before they were made to escape.
“I had no idea that what was later described as a ‘wall of people’ had formed about a block west of the Capitol,” he added.
He said that he refused to leave the building when he was pushed by his lead secret service agent Tim Giebels as protesters chanted “Hang Mike Pence”.
“I told my detail that I wasn’t leaving my post,” Mr Pence said. “Mr Giebels pleaded for us to leave. The rioters had reached our floor. I pointed my finger at his chest and said: ‘You’re not hearing me, Tim. I’m not leaving! I’m not giving those people the sight of a 16-car motorcade speeding away from the Capitol.’”
Describing a conversation with Mr Trump less than a week after the riots, he recounted the former president saying that he just came to know that Mr Pence’s family was also at the Capitol on the day of the riots.
“‘Were you scared?’” Mr Trump has asked Mr Pence. Mr Pence replied: “‘No. I was angry.’”
Mr Trump mused “with genuine sadness in his voice” that “’what if we hadn’t had the rally? What if they hadn’t gone to the Capitol?’” the former vice president wrote.
“It’s too terrible to end like this,” Mr Trump said, according to Mr Pence.
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