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Latest Jan. 6 hearing shows what Trump’s circle really thought of pressuring Pence

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The Jan. 6 committee is holding its third public hearing of the month Thursday with the focus on the pressure campaign on then-Vice President Mike Pence.

The committee says it will detail efforts from then-President Donald Trump and his allies before and on Jan. 6 to get Pence to reject electoral votes Congress was certifying — as part of what it says was a plot to overturn the presidential election.

Please check back for updates. All times Eastern:

Jun 16, 5:23 pm
Witness warns Trump allies ‘executing a blueprint’ to overturn 2024 election

Former federal judge Michael Luttig, in his closing comments before the committee, reiterated his comments in a New York Times op-ed in February that Trump and his allies were “a clear and present danger to democracy,” warning that Trump or his “anointed successor” could succeed in 2024 in overturning those presidential election results where they failed in 2020.

“The former president and his allies are executing a blueprint for 2024, in open and plain view of the American public,” Luttig told lawmakers.

“I don’t speak those words lightly. I would have never spoken those words I ever in my life,” he said. “Except that’s what the former president and his allies are telling us.”

Chairman Bennie Thompson thanked the witnesses for protecting the “foundation” of U.S. democracy and reiterated hit warning as well.

“There are now some who think the danger has passed. That even though there was violence and a corrupt attempt to overturn the presidential election, the system worked,” the Mississippi Democrat said. “I look at it another way: Our system nearly failed, and our democratic foundation destroyed but for people like you.”

Jun 16, 4:14 pm
Chair teases tip line, exhibits available to public online

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., closing out Thursday’s hearing, drew attention to the committee’s website — — where the public can view the evidence presented in the public hearings and send tips to the committee as its investigation is ongoing.

“Despite how you may not think it’s important, send us what you think,” he said. “I thank those that sent us evidence, for their bravery and patriotism.”

Jun 16, 4:09 pm
Cheney previews next hearing

With searing new evidence, the committee on Thursday sought to draw a direct link between Trump’s actions and the Capitol attack, which it maintained put Vice President Mike Pence’s life at serious risk.

Vice Chair Liz Cheney, in her closing statement, previewed evidence still to come, promising information in their next hearing on Tuesday about Trump’s efforts to apply pressure to Republican slate legislators, election officials and even federal officials to corrupt the electoral count vote.

“We will examine the Trump team’s determination to transmit material false electoral slates from multiple states to officials of the executive and legislative branches of our government,” she said, and “the pressures put on state legislators to convene to reverse lawful election results.”

After establishing Pence on Thursday as an “honorable man” who had the courage to carry out his constitutional duty on Jan. 6 despite a pressure campaign and threats to his life, Cheney ended by drawing a stark contrast with Trump.

“An honorable man receiving the information and advice that Mr. Trump received from his campaign experts and his staff, a man who loved his country more than himself would have conceded this election,” she said. “Indeed, we know that a number of President Trump’s closest aides urged him to do so.”

Jun 16, 4:03 pm
Eastman emailed Rudy Giuliani to be on ‘pardon list,’ committee says

Trump-allied attorney John Eastman, in the days after Jan. 6, emailed Rudy Giuliani about a possible pardon.

“I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works,” Eastman wrote to Giuliani, the committee showed.

Eastman wasn’t pardoned and when he was was deposed by the House panel, he pleaded the fifth 100 times, Rep. Pete Aguilar noted.

Jun 16, 3:51 pm
Pence’s life in danger as he hid for hours with rioters 40 feet away: Committee

Showing video footage of Secret Service agents rushing Pence down stairs in the Capitol, the committee said Pence was in hiding for four and a half hours, while, at times, rioters were just 40 feet away.

Greg Jacob, a former adviser to Pence who was with the vice president on Jan. 6 told the hearing room, “I could hear the din of the mob as we moved, but I don’t think I was aware,” when told how close they got.

“Approximately 40 feet, that’s all there was, 40 feet between the vice president and the mob,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., telling Jacob, “Forty feet is the distance from me to you roughly.”

“Make no mistake about the fact that the vice president’s life was in danger,” Aguilar said, arguing the “big lie” directly contributed to the Capitol attack and put Pence’s life at serious risk. “A recent court filing by the Department of Justice explains that a confidential informant from the Proud Boys told the FBI that the Proud Boys would’ve killed Mike Pence, if given the chance.”

Jun 16, 3:50 pm
Trump attorney pressured Pence to delay certification even after the riot, email shows

John Eastman, an attorney advising the Trump campaign, sent an email after the riot at the U.S. Capitol to once again pressure Pence to violate the Electoral Count Act, according to the committee’s presentation Thursday.

“I implore you to consider one more relatively minor violation and adjourn for ten days to allow the legislatures to finish their investigations,” Eastman wrote to Pence adviser Greg Jacob at 11:44 p.m. that day.

Jacob said he relayed Eastman’s message to Pence, who responded that the email was “rubber room stuff.”

“What did you interpret that to mean?” Rep. Pete Aguilar asked Jacob.

Jacob replied he translated that to mean Pence was calling it “certifiably crazy.”

Former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann told the committee that on Jan. 7, 2021, after Pence certified Joe Biden’s victory, Eastman called him to talk about a possible appeal in Georgia.

“I said to him, ‘Are you out of your f—— mind?’ I said, ‘I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth for now: orderly transition,” Herschmann recalled.

Jun 16, 3:39 pm
Trump aware of insurrection underway when he tweeted criticism at Pence: Committee

The committee displayed a slate of video testimony from those inside the White House and close to Trump to argue he was well aware of the violence underway on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 when he tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what was necessary” at 2:24 p.m.

Trump White House aide Sarah Matthews, in video testimony with the committee, recalled, “It felt like he was pouring gasoline on the fire by tweeting that.”

“It was clear that it is escalating, and escalating quickly,” she said. “When the Mike Pence tweet was sent out, I remember us saying that that was the last thing that needed to be tweeted out. The situation was already bad.”

Earlier, Rep. Pete Aguilar noted that the Capitol building itself was breached at 2:13 p.m. As the attack continued, Trump tweeted to “stay peaceful” at 2:38 p.m., said “no violence” at 3:13 p.m., and finally, at 4:17, he tweeted a video that telling people to go home while also saying, “We love you,” and repeating the false claim the election was stolen.

Jun 16, 3:24 pm
Witnesses recount for first time ‘heated’ Jan. 6 call between Trump, Pence: ‘Wimp’

Ivanka Trump, former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann and others told the committee in previously taped testimony what they heard when Trump called Pence from the Oval Office on Jan. 6.

“The conversation was pretty heated,” Ivanka Trump recalled.

Nicholas Luna, Trump’s former assistant, described entering the Oval Office at the time to deliver a note and hearing Trump say the word “wimp.”

“I remember hearing the word ‘wimp’,” Luna told the committee. “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.”

Gen. Keith Kellog, Pence’s national security adviser at the time, said in his deposition that Trump told Pence he wasn’t “tough” enough. Ivanka’s chief of staff, Julie Radford, told the committee that Ivanka said Trump called Pence “the p-word.”

Jun 16, 3:10 pm
Committee says Trump’s chief of staff discussed how plan was illegal

Committee members revealed evidence that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows knew — or was at least telling other aides that he agreed with their view — that Trump and his attorney John Eastman’s plan to overturn the election was illegal and that Pence had no ability to reject electoral votes for Biden sent to Congress.

In his taped interview with the committee, Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short told panel lawyers that that Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, said he agreed with Short and Pence that the vice president lacked such authority.

“Did Mr. Meadows ever explicitly … agree with you or say, ‘Yeah, that makes sense’?” interviewers asked.

“I believe that Mark did agree,” Short said. “But as I mentioned, I think Mark told so many people so many different things that it was not something that I would necessarily accept as … resolved.”

-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel

Jun 16, 3:04 pm
Pence’s chief of staff alerted Secret Service about VP’s safety on Jan. 5

Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, said he grew worried about the vice president’s safety as the disagreement between Pence and Trump escalated in the days leading up to Jan. 6.

“The concern was for the vice president’s security, so I wanted to make sure the head of the vice president’s Secret Service was aware that likely, as these disputes became more public, that the president would lash out in some way,” Short said in his taped deposition.

Short called the Secret Service on Jan. 5, 2021.

“After the recess, we will hear that Marc Short’s concerns were justified,” Rep. Pete Anguilar said. “The vice president was in danger.”

Jun 16, 2:58 pm
DOJ tells committee it’s ‘critical’ to provide investigation intel

As Attorney General Merrick Garland and his prosecutors are closely watching the hearings conducted by the committee this week, the Department of Justice sent a new letter telling the committee it is “critical” members “provide us with copies of the transcripts of all its witness interviews.”

In a letter to the committee’s chief investigator Wednesday, senior officials at the Justice Department said that the first two hearings this month showed the interviews conducted by the hearing “are not just potentially relevant to our overall criminal investigations but are likely relevant to specific prosecutions that have already commenced.”

The request suggests there are matters beyond violence on the ground on Jan. 6 that the Justice Department is already investigating — specifically alternate or fake electors as a part of the theory that Pence could unilaterally block the ceremony of Joe Biden as President.

Click here for more on potential federal crimes the committee has floated.

-ABC News’ Alexander Mallin

Jun 16, 3:23 pm
Attorney who pushed theory Pence could save Trump previously dismissed that same claim: Docs

Trump White House attorney John Eastman, at the center of the alleged scheme to send a false slate of electors to Congress and have Pence refuse to certify votes, based his reasoning on a theory the committee argued he never believed.

According to the committee, Eastman sought to take advantage of an ambiguity in the Electoral Count Act and claim the vice president could has the constitutional authority to reject electoral votes outright and use his capacity as presiding officer to suspend the proceedings.

“He described for me what he thought the ambiguity was in the statute. And he was walking through it at that time. And I said, ‘Hold on a second, I don’t understand you’re saying,'” said former Trump White House attorney Eric Herschmann in taped testimony.

Showing past documents, the committee said that Eastman had dismissed the same power he later claimed Pence could have used.

“In this letter, an idea was proposed that the vice president could determine which electors to count — but the person writing in blue negates that argument,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar. “Judge Luttig, does it surprise you that the author of those comments in blue, are in fact, John Eastman?

Former federal judge Michael Luttig responded “yes” and called it “constitutional mischief.”

Jun 16, 2:32 pm
Pence told Trump ‘many times’ he couldn’t overturn election: Marc Short

The committee aired several clips featuring Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Jason Miller, Steve Bannon and others publicly pressuring Pence to refuse the Electoral College votes that were in favor of Joe Biden.

“I hope Mike Pence comes through for us,” Trump said in one video from his rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021. “He’s a great guy. If he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.”

Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, told the committee in previously recorded testimony that Pence directly conveyed his view to Trump “many times” that he didn’t have the authority to do what they were asking of him.

“He’d been consistent in conveying his position to the president?” the committee asked Short.

“Very consistent,” Short replied.

Jun 16, 2:09 pm
Pence and adviser found that ‘history was absolutely decisive’: He couldn’t help Trump

Greg Jacob, a former adviser to Pence, said they analyzed history and constitutional text to map out the vice president’s role when it came to certifying elections.

The two then examined “every single electoral vote count that had happened in Congress” since the country’s founding, Jacob testified. They found no vice president ever claimed to have the kind of authority Trump and his attorney John Eastman claimed Pence had.

“The history was absolutely decisive and again, part of my discussion with Mr. Eastman was, ‘If you were right, don’t you think Al Gore might have liked to have known in 2000 that he had authority to just declare himself president of the United States? Did you think that the Democrat lawyers just didn’t think of this very obvious quirk that he could use to do that?’”

Jun 16, 2:15 pm
Trump, Pence haven’t spoken in a year: Sources

Trump and Pence haven’t spoken to one another since last summer, according to sources familiar with their conversations.

Pence defended Trump through a slate of controversies during their administration. But, as the House committee is highlighting at its hearings, Pence drew a line at Trump’s alleged plot to overturn the election — breaking from the president and drawing the rage of the Trump mob on Jan. 6.

When ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl interviewed Trump for his book “Betrayal,” Karl asked about the “Hang Mike Pence” chants and whether Trump had been concerned for the safety of the man he chose to be his vice president.

“Well, the people were very angry,” Trump said.

“They said, ‘hang Mike Pence,’” Karl told Trump.

“It’s common sense, Jon. It’s common sense that you’re supposed to protect,” Trump said. “How can you, if you know a vote is fraudulent, right, how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?”

While Pence himself isn’t testifying and has not sat before the committee, a range of former Pence aides cooperated with the investigation.

Since his term ended, Pence has publicly reiterated he had no power to overturn the 2020 results. But like other conservatives, he has said “election integrity” should be a national priority.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders

Jun 16, 1:40 pm
Inside the hearing room

Notable faces were spotted across the hearing room as proceedings kicked off Thursday.

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, Capitol Police Staff Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges and former Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who testified at the committee’s first hearing last year on their experience defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, were all present.

Former Pence national security adviser Olivia Troye, who resigned from the administration in 2020, was spotted sitting next to Gonell as well as Allison Gill, a former high-level Veterans Affairs official who was secretly recording a podcast on the weekends about Robert Mueller’s investigation that attracted thousands of listeners.

A couple of members of Congress have been spotted in the back of the room including Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., sitting together. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who along with Vice Chair Liz Cheney has been ostracized by the Republican Party for speaking out against Trump, also stopped by.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Benjamin Siegel

Jun 16, 1:35 pm
Retired judge says Trump risked throwing country into ‘revolution’

In his testimony on Thursday, former federal judge Michael Luttig painted a dire picture of what he believed would have happened had Pence followed through with Trump’s plea to remain in power.

“That declaration of Donald Trump as the next president would have plunged America into what I believe would’ve been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis in America,” Luttig said, “which in my view, and I am only one man, would’ve been the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the republic.”

Luttig is one of the panel’s two live witnesses in today’s hearing. The former judge informally advised Pence on his role in affirming the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Jun 16, 1:35 pm
Clip played of Pence saying Trump was ‘wrong’

In her opening statement, Vice Chair Liz Cheney played a clip of a Pence pushing back against Trump’s claim that he had the power to overturn the 2020 election in the weeks after the Jan. 6 attack.

“President Trump is wrong,” Pence said in a speech in February before The Federalist Society. “I had no right to overturn the election. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone. And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”

Cheney said the select committee will now reveal the details of that pressure campaign.

Jun 16, 1:10 pm
Thompson commends Pence’s ‘courage’ in rejecting Trump’s orders

The House select committee has kicked off its third of seven public hearings slated for this month.

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., gaveled in the hearing just after 1 p.m.

“Donald Trump wanted Mike Pence to do something no other vice president has ever done,” Thompson said in his opening remarks. “The former president wanted Pence to reject the votes and either declare Trump the winner or send the votes back to the states to be counted again. Mike Pence said no. He resisted the pressure. He knew it was illegal. He knew it was wrong. We are fortunate for Mr. Pence’s courage on Jan. 6. Our democracy came dangerously close to catastrophe. That courage put him in tremendous danger.”

Jun 16, 11:22 am
Live witnesses for Thursday

Pence himself will not appear before the committee, but his adviser Greg Jacobs — who was with the former vice president the day of the Capitol insurrection — is slated to testify. Jacobs, who is an attorney, pushed back against legal theories that Pence could single-handedly stop Joe Biden from becoming president.

Former federal judge Michael Luttig will also testify in front of lawmakers. Luttig previously told ABC News that if Pence had attempted to keep Trump in power, he would’ve “plunged the country into a constitutional crisis of the highest order.”

In addition to the live witnesses, the committee is expected to include pre-recorded video testimony from Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, and others who have been deposed behind closed doors.

Jun 16, 11:02 am
Rep. Pete Aguilar to lead hearing

Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., is going to be leading this third hearing, which he said will “lay out new evidence about the pressure campaign against Vice President Pence asking him to reject the votes of millions of people.”

Former U.S. Attorney John Wood will also be questioning the witnesses on Thursday, according to committee aides. Wood was federal prosecutor during the George W. Bush administration and is now a senior investigative counsel for the House committee.

Aguilar told reporters earlier this week that through these public hearings, the committee is making the point that “Trump was at the center of a coordinated strategy to overturn the results of a free and fair election.”

Jun 16, 10:29 am
Thursday to focus on Trump pressuring Pence

The House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol will convene its third public hearing of the month at 1 p.m. with members set to focus on how former President Donald Trump pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence with “relentless effort” to intervene to help overturn the 2020 election.

“President Trump had no factual basis for what he was doing and he had been told it was illegal,” Vice Chair Liz Cheney said in a video teasing Thursday’s hearing. “Despite this, President Trump plotted with a lawyer named John Eastman and others to overturn the outcome of the election on Jan. 6.”

A key component of evidence is never-before-seen photos of Pence and his family taken by an official White House photographer on Jan. 6 itself. In one — obtained by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl ahead of the hearing — second lady Karen Pence is seen hurriedly closing the curtains of the vice president’s ceremonial office at the Capitol, apparently fearful the mob outside could see where they were.

Last week, at the prime-time kickoff to this round of hearings, Cheney teased testimony to come around Trump’s awareness of rioters’ “hang Mike Pence” chants. Quoting from witness testimony, Cheney said Trump suggested as the attack was underway: “Maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence deserves it.”

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