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For Mike Pence, January 6 began like many days. It ended like no other.


WASHINGTON — The day began with a prayer.

Vice President Mike Pence, preparing to resist the final stage of a relentless campaign by President Donald J. Trump to force him to illegally try to overturn the results of the 2020 election, began on January 6, 2021, surrounded by aides at his residence official. at the Naval Observatory, asking God to guide him.

The group expected a difficult day. But what followed over the next 12 hours was more harrowing than they imagined.

An angry crowd with baseball bats and pepper spray shouting “hang Mike Pence” came within 40 feet of the vice president. Pence’s Secret Service detail had to push him to safety and hold him for nearly five hours in the bowels of the Capitol. Trump called Pence a “coward” and worse in a rude and abusive call that morning from the Oval Office, Trump’s daughter and former White House aides testified.

And a confidential witness who traveled to Washington with the Proud Boys, the most prominent of the far-right groups that helped lead the assault on Capitol Hill, later told investigators that the group may have killed Pence — and the president of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi—if they had I had the opportunity

Those were some of the extraordinary new details that emerged during the third public hearing held Thursday by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol.

Mr. Pence’s day dawned as it often does. The vice president, whose evangelical faith was a selling point for adding him to the presidential ticket in 2016 but often a source of skepticism for Trump, was joined in prayer by three people: his lead attorney, Greg Jacob; his chief of staff, Marc Short; and his director of legislative affairs, Chris Hodgson.

Mr. Pence and the team had been the subject of a barrage of demands from Mr. Trump that the vice president refuse to certify the Electoral College victory of Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a joint session of Congress, an action never unconstitutional. previously taken in the two and a half centuries since the founding of the nation.

“We just asked for guidance and wisdom, knowing that the day was going to be challenging,” Mr. Short said in videotaped testimony played by the committee.

While Pence was at the Naval Observatory, Trump was in the Oval Office with aides and family members coming and going, including Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Lara Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Ivanka Trump. He had already sent out two Twitter posts further pressuring Mr. Pence, the first at 1 a.m. The second, at 8 a.m., concluded: “Do it Mike, this is a moment of extreme value!”

At 11:20 a.m., Trump called Pence, who stepped away from his aides to take the call.

The group in the Oval Office was able to hear Trump’s side of the call, but paid little attention to what appeared to start out as routine conversation. But as Trump grew increasingly angry that Pence was adamant about his refusal to budge, the call became difficult to ignore.

“I remember hearing the word ‘coward,'” Trump aide Nick Luna said in videotaped testimony. “‘Wimp’ is the word I remember.”

Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and a former White House senior adviser, said in her videotaped testimony that “it was a different tone than I’ve heard her take before with the vice president.”

Mrs. Trump’s chief of staff, Julie Radford, appeared in videotaped testimony to say that Mrs. Trump told her shortly after the call that Mr. Trump had a “disturbing” conversation with Mr. Pence. . The president, Radford said, used “the P word.” (The New York Times previously reported that Mr. Trump had told Mr. Pence, “You can go down in history as a patriot or you can go down in history as a faggot,” according to two people briefed on the conversation.)

At the Naval Observatory, Mr. Pence returned to the room after taking the call looking “steely,” “determined” and “somber,” Mr. Jacob told the committee.

Meanwhile, Trump reviewed a speech he delivered later that day to a crowd of supporters at Ellipse. An early draft of the speech, the committee said, did not include any mention of Pence. But after the call, the president included language that showed video footage that angered the mob.

“I hope Mike does the right thing,” Trump said in his speech. “I hope so. I hope so. Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win.”

“All Vice President Pence has to do is send him back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people,” Trump continued, referring to one of his demands that Pence send the results of the tests. state elections, a delaying tactic he hoped would ultimately keep him in office. If Pence did not deliver, Trump told the crowd, “it will be a sad day for our country.”

He added: “So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do. And I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people he’s listening to,” using the term for “Republicans in name only.”

Mr. Trump ordered his supporters to march on Capitol Hill and make themselves heard.

When Mr. Pence arrived at the Capitol with his wife, Karen Pence, and their daughter, Charlotte, an angry mob was already gathering outside.

Inside, as the joint session began, Pence aides issued a memo to the public outlining the vice president’s view that he did not have the power over the certification that Trump and his attorney, John Eastman, insisted he did.

Shortly after 2:10 pm, the proceedings were interrupted by loud noises. The crowd was invading the building. At 2:24 p.m., when Democrats on the committee said Trump knew the Capitol had been violated, the president posted on Twitter that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what was necessary.”

By this time, the Secret Service had moved Pence from the Senate chamber to his office across the hall. His aides said the noise from the rioters had become audible, leading them to assume they had entered the building. However, there was still no general sense of alarm.

Once in his office, Mr. Pence sat with his family, including his brother, Rep. Greg Pence, and his top aides, while Mr. Short went downstairs to grab some food. Mrs. Pence drew the curtains to prevent rioters from looking inside.

Mr. Short returned to the office. By then, Tim Giebels, Pence’s top Secret Service agent, had made some attempts to push Pence and his family to move to a different place. But he soon stopped making suggestions. Pence, he said, had to get to safety.

The entourage started down a stairway toward an underground loading dock, at which point they came within 40 feet of the rioters. Pence and his aides did not know at the time how close they were to the mob, some of whom were threatening to kill him.

“I could hear the roar of the rioters in the building,” Jacob said Thursday at the hearing. “I think he didn’t know they were that close.”

From the loading dock, Pence fielded calls from congressional leaders who had been evacuated from the Capitol complex and ordered the Pentagon to send in the National Guard. The Secret Service directed him to get into a car and evacuate, but he refused to leave the building.

“The vice president did not want to risk the world seeing the vice president of the United States fleeing the United States Capitol,” Jacob said Thursday, noting that Pence did not want to give rioters the satisfaction of further disrupting the process. than they had already done. “I was determined that we would complete the job we had set out to do that day.”

One person he never spoke to again that day was Trump, who did not call to check on Pence’s safety. Neither does the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Just after 8 pm, the Senate chamber reopened, after the rioters were cleared from the complex.

“Today was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol,” Pence said as the process began anew. He was greeted with applause when he said, “Let’s get back to work.”

Back at the White House, egged on by some of his aides, Trump told aides he wanted to prevent Short from entering the West Wing from now on.

At 3:42 in the morning, it was all over. Mr. Biden’s victory had been certified.

At 3:50 a.m., as Pence and Short were going their separate ways, Short texted his boss a passage from the Bible.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” the message read.



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