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For Mike Pence, Jan. 6 Began Like Many Days. It Ended Like No Other.


WASHINGTON — He began the day with a prayer.

Vice President Mike Pence, preparing to face up to the ultimate stage of a relentless campaign by President Donald J. Trump to force him to illegally attempt to overturn the outcomes of the 2020 election, began Jan. 6, 2021, surrounded by aides at his official residence on the Naval Observatory, asking God for guidance.

The group was expecting a difficult day. But what followed over the following 12 hours was more harrowing than they imagined.

An offended mob with baseball bats and pepper spray chanting “hang Mike Pence” got here inside 40 feet of the vice chairman. Mr. Pence’s Secret Service detail needed to hustle him to safety and hold him for nearly five hours within the bowels of the Capitol. Mr. Trump called Mr. Pence a “wimp” and worse in a rough and abusive call that morning from the Oval Office, Mr. Trump’s daughter and former White House aides testified.

And a confidential witness who traveled to Washington with the Proud Boys, essentially the most outstanding of the far-right groups that helped lead the assault on the Capitol, later told investigators the group would have killed Mr. Pence — and Speaker Nancy Pelosi — in the event that they got the possibility.

Those were among the many extraordinary recent details that emerged in the course of the third public hearing held Thursday by the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on america Capitol.

Mr. Pence’s day dawned because it often did. The vice chairman, whose evangelical faith was a selling point for adding him to the presidential ticket in 2016 but often a source of skepticism for Mr. Trump, was joined by three people in prayer: his chief counsel, Greg Jacob; his chief of staff, Marc Short; and his director of legislative affairs, Chris Hodgson.

Mr. Pence and the team had been subjected to a barrage of demands from Mr. Trump that the vice chairman refuse to certify Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College victory in a joint session of Congress — an unconstitutional motion never before taken within the two and a half centuries for the reason that nation’s founding.

“We just asked for guidance and wisdom, knowing the day was going to be a difficult one,” Mr. Short said in videotaped testimony played by the committee.

While Mr. Pence was on the Naval Observatory, Mr. Trump was within the Oval Office with aides and members of the family trickling out and in, including Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Lara Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Ivanka Trump. He had already sent two Twitter posts further pressuring Mr. Pence, the primary at 1 a.m. The second, at 8 a.m., concluded, “Do it Mike, this can be a time for extreme courage!”

At 11:20 a.m., Mr. Trump called Mr. Pence, who stepped away from his aides to take the decision.

The group within the Oval Office could hear Mr. Trump’s side of the decision but paid little attention to what looked as if it would start as a routine conversation. But as Mr. Trump became increasingly heated that Mr. Pence was holding firm in his refusal to offer in, the decision became hard to disregard.

“I remember hearing the word ‘wimp,’” Nick Luna, an aide to Mr. Trump, said in videotaped testimony. “‘Wimp’ is the word I remember.”

Ivanka Trump, the president’s older daughter and a former top White House adviser, said in her videotaped testimony that “it was a distinct tone than I heard him take with the vice chairman before.”

Ms. Trump’s chief of staff, Julie Radford, appeared in videotaped testimony to say that Ms. Trump told her shortly after the decision that Mr. Trump had an “upsetting” conversation with Mr. Pence. The president, Ms. Radford said, used “the P word.” (The Recent York Times reported previously that Mr. Trump had told Mr. Pence, “You possibly can either go down in history as a patriot or you may go down in history as a pussy,” based on two people briefed on the conversation.)

Over on the Naval Observatory, Mr. Pence returned to the room after taking the decision looking “steely,” “determined” and “grim,” Mr. Jacob told the committee.

Mr. Trump within the meantime revised a speech that he delivered later that day to throngs of supporters on the Ellipse. An early draft of the speech, the committee said, included no mention of Mr. Pence. But after the decision, the president included language that video footage showed riled up the mob.

“I hope Mike goes to do the best thing,” Mr. Trump said in his speech. “I hope so. I hope so. Because if Mike Pence does the best thing, we win.”

“All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we change into president and you might be the happiest people,” Mr. Trump continued, referring to one in every of his demands that Mr. Pence send the election results back to the states, a delaying tactic that he hoped would ultimately keep him in office. If Mr. Pence didn’t comply, Mr. Trump told the group, “that might be a tragic day for our country.’’

He added, “So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do. And I hope he doesn’t hearken to the RINOs and the silly those that he’s listening to,” using the term for “Republicans in name only.”

Mr. Trump directed his supporters to march to the Capitol and make themselves heard.

By the point Mr. Pence arrived on the Capitol together with his wife, Karen Pence, and their daughter Charlotte, an offended mob was already massing outside.

Inside, because the joint session began, Mr. Pence’s aides released a memo to the general public laying out the vice chairman’s view that he didn’t have the facility over the certification that Mr. Trump and his lawyer, John Eastman, insisted he did.

Shortly after 2:10 p.m., the proceedings were interrupted by loud noises. The mob was swarming into the constructing. At 2:24 p.m. — when Democrats on the committee said Mr. Trump was aware that the Capitol had been breached — the president posted to Twitter that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what was needed.”

At that time, the Secret Service had moved Mr. Pence from the Senate chamber to his office across the hall. His advisers said the noise from the rioters had change into audible, leading them to assume that they had entered the constructing. Yet there was not yet a pervasive sense of alarm.

Once in his office, Mr. Pence sat together with his family, including his brother, Representative Greg Pence and top aides as Mr. Short ducked downstairs to grab some food. Mrs. Pence drew the curtains to maintain the rioters from looking in.

Mr. Short made his way back to the office. By then, Tim Giebels, the lead Secret Service agent for Mr. Pence, had made a number of attempts to nudge Mr. Pence and his family to maneuver to a distinct location. But soon he was now not making a suggestion. Mr. Pence, he said, needed to get to safety.

The entourage began to make its way down a stairway toward an underground loading dock — the purpose at which they got here inside 40 feet of the rioters. Mr. Pence and his aides didn’t know on the time just how close they were to the mob, a few of whom were threatening to kill him.

“I could hear the din of the rioters within the constructing,” Mr. Jacob said Thursday on the hearing. “I don’t think I used to be aware they were as close as that.”

From the loading dock, Mr. Pence handled calls to congressional leaders who had been evacuated from the Capitol complex and ordered the Pentagon to send within the National Guard. The Secret Service directed him to get right into a automotive and evacuate, but he refused to go away the constructing.

“The vice chairman didn’t need to take any likelihood that the world would see the vice chairman of america fleeing america Capitol,” Mr. Jacob said Thursday, noting that Mr. Pence didn’t want to offer the rioters the satisfaction of disrupting the proceedings greater than that they had already done. “He was determined that we’d complete the work that we had set out to try this day.”

One person he never spoke with again that day was Mr. Trump, who didn’t call to examine on Mr. Pence’s safety. Neither did the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Just after 8 p.m., the Senate chamber opened again, after the rioters had been cleared from the complex.

“Today was a dark day within the history of america Capitol,” Mr. Pence said because the proceedings began again. He was greeted with applause when he said, “Let’s get back to work.”

Back on the White House, egged on by a few of his advisers, Mr. Trump told aides he desired to bar Mr. Short from entering the West Wing from then on.

At 3:42 within the morning, it was throughout. Mr. Biden’s victory had been certified.

At 3:50 a.m., as Mr. Pence and Mr. Short went their separate ways, Mr. Short texted his boss a passage from the Bible.

“I even have fought the great fight, I even have finished the race, I even have kept the religion,” the message read.

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