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Jan. 6 Commission’s third hearing focuses on pressure Pence faced to overturn presidential election

Capitol Riot Investigation
Posted at 4:59 AM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 15:56:48-04

The House Jan. 6 Commission is holding its third of eight hearings Thursday focusing on the pressure Vice President Mike Pence faced from President Donald Trump and campaign attorney John Eastman to stop the certification of Electoral College votes.

Thursday’s hearing includes two witnesses — Greg Jacob, an attorney who worked for Pence, and Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who served as an informal adviser to Pence.

Jacob outlined Eastman's attempts to convince Pence to reject the Electoral College electors or send the electors back to the states.

"I told him (Eastman) if the courts did not step in, there was no one else to resolve it, that might well be resolved through violence in the streets," Jacob said about Eastman's plant to send electors back to the states.

Jacob said Eastman acknowledged the plan would ultimately fail, even if Pence followed along.

"I said, 'John, if the vice president did what you were asking him to do, we would lose 9-0 in the Supreme Court, wouldn't we?...After some further discussion, [he] acknowledged, 'Well, yeah you're right,'" Jacob said.

But he did say Eastman wavered, saying the courts would not get involved in a legal question.

Pence became a target for rioters during the Jan. 6 insurrection. Video from the insurrection showed rioters chanting “hang Mike Pence” after Trump decried Pence for not rejecting electors. Part of Thursday's hearing is focusing on some of the threats Pence faced.

"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 knew it was illegal. He knew it was wrong," committee chair Bennie Thompson.

The committee is trying to make the case Thursday that Trump’s words put Pence’s life in danger.

“I think the public probably is not aware of how close a call this was,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat on the Jan. 6 Commission, told CNN. “The rioters came very close to capturing the vice president, and I think there's very good evidence that they would've done harm to him, perhaps even killed him. So, this was a close call."

ABC News obtained photos from a White House photographer from Pence’s ceremonial office during the insurrection. It showed Pence’s wife, Karen Pence, closing the curtains in his office. ABC News reported that the Pences could see rioters moments before the Secret Service whisked them to safety.

Rep. Liz Cheney, the commission’s vice-chair and one of two Republicans on the panel, said the pressure Trump applied on Pence “likely violated” two federal crimes.

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