Over the last week Democratic impeachment managers have made the case that not only did Donald Trump incite the violence that took place on January 6, but he also relished in the attack on the Capitol and continued to foment it even as it was clear that Vice President Mike Pence (not to mention the lawmakers assembled) was in grave danger. While none of the five people who lost their lives as a result of the insurrection were elected officials, Democrats’ presentation showed that Pence came perilously close to the rioters, who, according to an FBI affidavit, “would have killed [the] vice president…if given the chance.”
As we know, despite being told at least a dozen times that there was nothing Pence could do to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s win, Trump was reportedly “enraged” when the V.P. privately made it clear that he would not interfere with the process that would officially declare he had lost the election. (Calling Pence a “pussy,” as it turned out, did not have the effect Trump had hoped it would.) Trump then shared that anger with the thousands of supporters assembled for the “Stop the Steal” rally, repeatedly attacking Pence throughout his speech and suggesting to the crowd that it was possible the V.P. might come through—thereby, as The Washington Post put it, “elevating the suspense and eventual shock among his supporters at Pence’s perceived betrayal when the [congressional] session opened.” “Mike Pence,” Trump said, “I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you.” Of course Pence did end up standing up for the good of the Constitution, just not in the way Trump had hoped:
Before Trump finished speaking, Pence issued a lengthy statement announcing publicly that he would not reject Biden’s Electoral College votes. People familiar with Trump’s activities said he returned to the White House seething with anger at his vice president. One said Trump had considered tweeting about his anger earlier in the day—but decided to hold off until after Pence had formally opened the proceedings at 1 p.m.
The Trump tweet about Pence came more than an hour after police reported that metal barricades outside the Capitol had been overwhelmed by the angry mob and about 12 minutes after the rioters had made it inside the building. “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution…USA demands the truth!” Trump tweeted.
As we now know from a clip aired by impeachment managers, a rioter, apparently having seen Trump’s tweet, shouted over a megaphone outside the Capitol, “Mike Pence let us down, people. If you want to get something done, you’re going to have to do it yourself.”
Shortly thereafter a group of rioters made its way upstairs to the Senate chamber, with security footage showing Pence’s security detail moving him to a secure location.
Per the Post: