5TH UPDATE: Some of the riveting revelations out of Thursday’s January 6th Committee hearing were so extraordinary as to overshadow one of the more important messages that the members are trying to convey: There is a ‘clear and present danger” to democracy.
Those were the words of J. Michael Luttig, retired conservative appellate judge and informal adviser to Mike Pence, who said in his testimony, “I don’t take those words lightly.”
“Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy. That is not because of what happened on January 6th. It is because, to this very day, the former president, his allies and supporters, pledge that in the presidential election of 2024 if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican party presidential candidate were to lose that election that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020, but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020.”
He said that Trump and his allies are “executing that blueprint’ for 2024 in “open and plain view of the American public.”
The committee appears to be laying out a criminal case, as they have delved into areas where Trump and his allies may have broken the law. The members are presenting evidence that Trump knew or should have known that the plan to overturn the election was illegal, but he tried to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to go along with it anyway. But it’s up to the Department of Justice to move forward on any indictments, something that appears to have stirred up a bit of friction.
The DOJ wrote to the committee this week calling on them to release transcripts of their interviews. The committee chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), told reporters after the hearing that they “will cooperate with them, but the committee has its own timetable, and that is what we will do.”
4TH UPDATE: The January 6th Committee hearing on Thursday didn’t disappoint in new revelations on Donald Trump’s pressure campaign to get Mike Pence reject the electoral vote results in favor of Joe Biden.
Even after the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, in which Pence narrowly escaped a mob, the attorney advising Trump, John Eastman, made a last-ditch effort to persuade the vice president to delay the vote count.
Eastman, who wrote the plan to overturn the results, emailed Pence’s counsel just before midnight on January 6, urging him to again consider delaying the count. At the time, order had been restored at the ransacked Capitol, and Pence was preparing to resume the tallying of electoral votes..
“I implore you to consider one more relatively minor violation and adjourn for 10 more days to allow the legislatures to finish their investigations, as well as to allow a full forensic audit of the massive amount of illegal activity that has occurred here,” Eastman wrote to Greg Jacob, Pence’s counsel, who testified before the January 6th Committee on Thursday.
Pence, informed several days later of Eastman’s email, called it “rubber room stuff,” Jacob said. Pence and his advisers had rejected Eastman’s plan in the days leading up to January 6, Jacob said, and even Eastman acknowledged that it was illegal.
Eastman, warned that his efforts to overturn the results may have broken federal laws, later emailed Rudy Giuliani, who was advising Trump, asking to be included on a list of pardons before Trump left office. “I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works,” Eastman wrote in the email.
When the committee interviewed Eastman, he took the 5th 100 times. according to Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), one of the committee members.
Other bombshells from the hearing:
The rift between POTUS and Veep: In a phone conversation with Pence the morning of January 6, Trump called him a “wimp” and the “p-word.” “He used a different tone that I have heard him take with the vice president before,” Ivanka Trump said in her videotaped testimony.
Testimony on Jan. 6 phone call between President Trump and Vice President Pence.
"The conversation was pretty heated."
"I remember hearing the word wimp. Either he called him a wimp. I don't remember if he said, 'you are a wimp, you'll be a wimp.' Wimp is the word I remember." pic.twitter.com/Wc430aXSiE
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 16, 2022
Trump was told of mob melee: As the Capitol mob descended into violence, chief of staff Mark Meadows informed Trump of the chaos, according to testimony given to the committee. But Trump still sent a tweet at 2:24 that day, saying that his vice president “didn’t have the courage.” The committee played video of the aftermath, in which the crowds surged inside and outside afterward.
The threat to Pence: An FBI informant said that the Proud Boys, the right wing group, “would kill the vice
Pence initially went to his Senate office but later was taken to a location below the Capitol during the attack. According to the committee’s timeline, the mob was just 40 feet away at one point.
“I could hear the din of the rioters in the budding as we moved, but I don’t think I was aware that they were as close as that,” Jacob said.
CLIP: Vice President Pence's evacuation and his proximity to the rioters.@RepPeteAguilar: "Approximately 40 feet. That's all there was." pic.twitter.com/dYOc3HPtD6
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 16, 2022
Pence stays: As the Secret Service directed Pence and his staff to get in vehicles to leave the Capitol, Pence refused.
3RD UPDATE: Mike Pence’s staff was “shocked and disappointed” when Donald Trump put out a statement that “the vice president and I are in total agreement that the vice president has the power to act.”
In fact, according to Bob Woodward and Bob Costa’s Fear, Pence had informed Trump in a meeting January 5 that he had no such power to reject the electoral vote count in favor of Joe Biden.
Trump had sent out the statement in response to a New York Times report at the time over the disagreement between the president and vice president. Trump called the report “fake news,” but Pence’s staffers have told the committee that it actually was correct.
After the statement, Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short contacted Jason Miller, senior adviser to Trump’s campaign. In videotaped testimony, Short said that he as was “irritated” and that he “expressed his displeasure” that the statement “misrepresented the vice president’s viewpoint.”
“This is not where the vice president was,” Short said.
In his video testimony, Miller said that an irritated Short asked him, “What is the process for putting out a statement for a meeting when only two people were in the room?”
2ND UPDATE: Sean Hannity once again was the source of the January 6th Committee’s hearing, as the group displayed more texts that Hannity sent to then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the days before the attack on the Capitol.
In one text, sent on December 31, Hannity warned that the White House counsels office would resign if Donald Trump pressed forward with his plan to challenge the results during the ceremonial counting of electoral votes on January 6. The plan was rooted in the idea that Vice President Mike Pence could reject the results and even declare Trump the winner.
“We can’t lose the entire WH counsel’s office,” Hannity wrote. “I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6th. He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to FL and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.”
On January 5, Hannity wrote to Meadows, “Im very worried about the next 48 hours.”
He then texted, “Pence pressure. WH counsel will leave.”
UPDATE: J. Michael Luttig, a retired judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, said that if Mike Pence went with Donald Trump’s orders to reject the electoral vote count for Joe Biden it “would have plunged America into what I believe would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis in America.”
Luttig, a conservative judge and informal adviser to Pence, said that it “would have been the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the republic.”
Greg Jacob, who was Pence’s counsel, said that the vice president’s “first instinct” was that he did not have the authority to do what Trump wanted him to do. He said that they studied constitutional text, the Electoral Count Act and historical precedent that confirmed the vice president’s view. Jacob said that Pence concluded that there was no way that the Constitution’s framers would have given the vice president the authority to essentially decide who the next president should be.
“The history was absolutely decisive,” Jacob said. He said that Pence “never budged” from his position that he could not block the count or even delay it.
The committee has been focusing on the role of John Eastman, an attorney who wrote up a memo that laid out how Pence could reject the electors on the grounds that in seven states, there were dueling “slates of electors” for Trump. But Cheney argued that Eastman was aware when he wrote the memo that such an argument was false, as he had written an email in December 2020, that such a slate of electors, not certified by the states, would be “dead on arrival” in Congress.
Jacob said that in discussions with Eastman, he pointed to Vice President Al Gore, who presided over the electoral vote count after losing the 2020 presidential election following a showdown that went to the Supreme Court. Jacob said he told Eastman, “Don’t you think Al Gore might have liked to have known” in 2000 that “he had the authority to just declare himself president of the United States?”
Jacob said that Eastman acknowledged in an Oval Office meeting with Trump on January 4 that the plan for Pence to reject the electors violated the Electoral Count Act.
Eastman also acknowledged that his plan likely would lose in court, Jacob said. He said that in the long discussion with Eastman on January 5, he acknowledged that the Supreme Court would reject the plan. While Eastman argued that the vote would be 7-2 against the plan, Jacob said, he later agreed that it would more likely be 9-0.
But Eastman still advanced the plan, and spoke at the rally at the Ellipse on the morning January 6.
Greg Jacob on January 5th meeting: "When Mr. Eastman came in, he said, 'I'm here to request that you reject the electors.' So, on the 4th, that had been the path that he had said, 'I'm not recommending'…but on the 5th he came in and expressly requested that." pic.twitter.com/ylCegsM7hd
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 16, 2022
PREVIOUSLY: The January 6th Commission, once again getting the spotlight from broadcast and cable networks for its latest hearing, focused its attention on the pressure that President Donald Trump placed on Vice President Mike Pence to reject the electoral vote count in favor of Joe Biden on January 6.
“Donald Trump wanted mike pence to do something no Vice President has ever done,” said the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), at the outset of the hearing.
Cheney has suggested that laws were broken as Trump, with the advice of attorney John Eastman, urged Pence to reject the electors, something that the vice president ultimately determined that he did not have the authority to do.
In the days leading up to this latest hearing, its vice chair, Cheney previewed its focus, dropping a clip on Twitter in which a White House attorney warned Eastman, in the aftermath of January 6, “Get a great f-ing criminal defense lawyer. You’re going to need it.”
New revelations about January 6 have emerged even outside the committee’s official proceedings.
As the Capitol was attacked, Pence was whisked away to his Senate office. ABC News’ Jon Karl released photos of Pence, as his wife, Karen, shut the curtains in the office, apparently concerned that they could be spotted by the mob below.
On Thursday, Axios reported that the committee would seek to interview Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, after reports that she contacted Eastman. Ginni Thomas had also contacted then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the weeks after the election, as she embraced election fraud conspiracy theories.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.