Former President Trump made an approving remark about his own vice president being hanged following chants at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to hang then-Vice President Pence, according to a report in The New York Times.
The report is based on an account of an incident at the White House that was reported to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.
Matching 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.”
Trump has repeatedly expressed his displeasure with Pence, who had made it clear that on Jan. 6 he would not be questioning the results of the election. Pence’s role in the process as vice president was to preside over the count by the House and Senate and consider objections made by state delegations.
But the new report suggests just how unpleased Trump was with Pence, who has since criticized the former president’s behavior on Jan. 6. According to the report, at least one witness initially provided the House select committee an account of comments that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows made to colleagues on Jan. 6.
Meadows said Trump made a remark signaling his openness to having Pence hanged following the chants at the Capitol, two people briefed on the panel’s work told the Times. People familiar with the committee’s work told the Times that the account was confirmed to the panel by former Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson after she was asked about it.
Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Trump, criticized the claims. “This partisan committee’s vague ‘leaks,’ anonymous testimony and willingness to alter evidence proves it’s just an extension of the Democrat smear campaign that has been exposed time and time again for being fabricated and dishonest,” he said. “Americans are tired of the Democrat lies and the charades, but, sadly, it’s the only thing they have to offer.”
Trump denounced Pence’s unwillingness to go along with the effort during his rally at the Ellipse just before the Electoral College certification began in the Capitol.
“We want to be so respectful of everybody,” Trump said at the time. “And we are going to have to fight much harder. And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country. Because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution.”
A short time later, Trump’s supporters marched up to the Capitol with some chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” as a gallows were set up outside the Capitol building. Pence, who had arrived earlier at the Capitol, was taken to safety in an underground garage as the top congressional leadership of both parties was evacuated.
Trump, watching television throughout the riot, spoke approvingly of those chants as he discussed them with Meadows and possibly other aides, according to the testimony that the committee has heard.
Trump made his displeasure with Pence clear not just to his aides but to the public when he tweeted, at 2:24 p.m., as the rioters were swarming the building, that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”
In one of Pence’s most forceful breaks with the former president, he said at a Federalist Society event in Florida in February that “I had no right to overturn the election.”
“There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes. And I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election,’” Pence said at the time.
“President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election,” he added. “The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. Frankly, there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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