President Trump was aware the U.S. Capitol had been breached by his supporters when he condemned Vice President Pence in a tweet on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, a House Democratic leader said at a committee hearing Thursday.
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands), vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, said in his opening statement that Americans will hear from witnesses that “Donald Trump pressured Mike Pence to adopt a legally and morally bankrupt idea that the vice president could choose who the next president can be.”
After losing dozens of court challenges in states Trump lost to President Biden in 2020, Trump urged then-Vice President Mike Pence in a last-ditch effort to reject Congress’ certification of electoral college votes, a move Pence and others warned exceeded his authority as vice president.
“You’ll hear about how the vice president, the White House counsel and others told Donald Trump that the vice president had no such authority, but President Trump would not listen,” Aguilar said. “You’ll hear how Vice President Pence withstood an onslaught of pressure from President Trump, both publicly and privately, a pressure campaign that built to a fever pitch with a heated phone call on Jan. 6. You’ll also hear that the president knew there was a violent mob at the Capitol when he tweeted at 2: 24 p.m. that the vice president did not have the ‘courage’ to do what needed to be done.”
Trump’s full tweet said that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands truth!”
In a video screened during the hearing, the committee showed Trump delivering a speech warning supporters it “will be a sad day for our country” if Pence doesn’t “come through for us.”
Another clip showed an unidentified Trump supporter recording himself saying he heard Pence “caved” and asking those around him whether that was true.
“I’m telling you, if Pence caved, we’re gonna drag motherf— through the streets,” the man said. “You f— politicians are gonna get f— drug through the streets.”
The committee also played footage of Trump supporters at the Capitol calling for Pence to come outside, as well as chants to “hang Mike Pence!” and an image of a noose and gallows outside the Capitol.
“How did we get to the point where President Trump’s most radical supporters led a violent attack on the Capitol and threatened to hang President Trump’s own vice president?” Aguilar asked. “Let me be clear: Vice President Pence did the right thing that day. He stayed true to his oath to protect and defend the Constitution.”
Witnesses for Thursday’s hearing also include Pence chief counsel Greg Jacob and retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig.