Watching on television as his supporters chanted “Hang Mike Pence” as they stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, former President Donald Trump commented that his vice president should perhaps be hanged for his refusal to block certification of Trump’s victory. Joe Biden. in the 2020 election, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
The comment was relayed to colleagues by Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and appeared in testimony given to the January 6 select committee investigating the events of that day, the Times reported.
Coinciding with the story in the Times, Politico reported that “three people familiar with the matter” confirmed that Trump had “expressed support for hanging his vice president.”
Shortly before violence broke out on Capitol Hill, Trump incited a crowd of several thousand supporters at a rally in which he specifically targeted Pence.
“Mike Pence, I expect you to stand up for the good of our Constitution and the good of our country, and if you don’t, I’ll be so disappointed in you, I’ll tell you. right now,” Trump said.
By then, Pence had already decided that he would not try to block the certification of the Electoral College vote showing that Trump had lost to Biden. As the formality of the vote count began, the crowd that had seen Trump outside the White House marched on Capitol Hill with the purpose of disrupting the count.
Overwhelming Capitol Police, smashing windows and forcing their way into the building, many of Trump’s supporters chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” with some erecting a makeshift gallows equipped with a noose. As he watched the chaos unfold, Trump reportedly made the comment about him, although, as the Times noted, the exact wording and tone he used remain unclear.
Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Trump, released a statement to the Times and Politico, which, while not directly denying that the former president made the comment about Pence, went after the January 6 committee.
“This partisan committee’s vague ‘leaks’, anonymous testimony and willingness to tamper with evidence prove that it is just an extension of the Democratic smear campaign that has been exposed time and time again as fabricated and dishonest,” Budowich said. in the statement. “Americans are tired of the lies and charades of the Democrats, but sadly, it is the only thing they have to offer.”
A spokesman for Mike Pence declined a request for comment from Yahoo News.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Meadows aide, confirmed to the Jan. 6 committee that her boss had remembered Trump’s comment about hanging Pence, the Times reported. An attorney for Meadows told the Times that he had “every reason to believe” that the story Meadows said “is false.”
In an interview with ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl last year, Trump was asked about the “Hang Mike Pence” chant and whether he had worried about his vice president’s safety during the riots.
“Were you worried about him during that siege? Were you worried about his safety? Karl asked Trump.
“No, I thought he was well protected and I had heard he was in good shape,” Trump replied. “No, I had heard that he was in very good shape. But, but… no, I think…
“Because you heard those chants, that was terrible, I mean, you know, those…”
“He could have… well, people were very angry,” Trump continued.
“They were saying, ‘Hang Mike Pence,’” Karl added.
“Because it’s… it’s common sense, Jon, it’s common sense that you’re supposed to protect. How can you, if you know that a vote is fraudulent, right, how can you pass a fraudulent vote to Congress? Trump said.
In a February speech to the Federalist Society, Pence refuted Trump’s claim that he could simply have blocked Electoral College certification.
“President Trump is wrong: he had no right to nullify the election. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone. And frankly, there is no more anti-American idea than the idea that anyone can elect the American president,” Pence said.
In April, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who is part of the Jan. 6 committee, described the US Secret Service’s effort to remove Pence from the Capitol building when rioters stopped vote certification. of the Electoral College. .
“Secret Service agents, presumably reporting to Trump’s Secret Service agents, were trying to get him off campus and he said, ‘I’m not getting in that car until we count the Electoral College votes.’ I knew exactly what this insider coup that they had planned was going to do,” Raskin said in an interview at Georgetown University, adding, “This was not a coup aimed at the president. It was a coup led by the president against the vice president and against Congress.”