Pence opens up about Trump and Jan. 6, the GOP is paying attention after a dismal midterm election
Former Vice President Mike Pence, long written off as a viable potential candidate within the Republican Party after the Jan. 6, 2021 attacks, regained the party’s attention after Tuesday medium-term results with bruising.
In an excerpt from his forthcoming memoir published in The Wall Street Journalthat took place shortly after Election Day approached, Pence revealed a wealth of new details about his direct interactions with then-President Donald Trump in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The former vice president and potential 2024 candidate unloaded extensively for the first time. He wrote that in a meeting shortly after the 2020 presidential election, he advised Trump to accept reality and prepare to run again in 2024, but that Trump sounded “tired.”
Pence went on to say he received a phone call from Trump on New Year’s Day 2021, in which Trump pressured him to sign an initiative by congressional Republicans to overturn the election results. Pence said it was out of his power.
“You’re being too honest,” Pence said. “‘Hundreds of thousands will hate you. … People will think you’re stupid.’”
He also described a meeting at the White House with Trump and his lawyer John Eastman on Jan. 4, 2021, in which Pence dismissed Eastman’s arguments that the vice president had the authority to unilaterally overturn election results, until the lawyer “stammered” in protest, “Well, it’s never been tested in the courts, so I think it’s an open question.”
When Pence signaled to Trump, he noted that the president appeared not to be paying attention as his vice president dismissed Eastman’s arguments.
Pence’s aides and advisers have long said Trump’s former second-in-command would never reveal any private conversations he had with Trump during their four or more years working together. But after months of sharing little of his feelings about the attack on the Capitol and Trump’s persistent targeting of him, Pence gradually revealed more, ahead of the release of his memoir next week.
On Wednesday, after the midterm elections, an excerpt from Pence’s book, “Help Me God,” was passed around among Republicans eyeing the rapidly developing 2024 field.
The timing, according to Indiana Republicans who spoke to Yahoo News, seemed like the perfect opportunity to capture Trump at his weakest moment and potentially elevate Pence as a 2024 prospect at a time when some Republicans are looking for an alternative to Trump for the GOP nomination.
In the excerpt, Pence gave a stunning account of how he jabbed at his Secret Service on Jan. 6, demanding they stay in the Capitol and go peacefully to a safe location, even as insurgents descended on him and his team.
And for the first time, Pence also detailed Trump’s surprisingly coy meeting with him days after the riot. “I met with the president on January 11th. He looked tired and his voice sounded weaker than usual,” Pence wrote. Trump asked about him and his family, he wrote, wondering if he was “scared” on Jan. 6.
“No,” Pence replied. “I was angry. You and I were parting ways that day, Mr. President, and it made me furious to see those people tearing down the Capitol.”
The schedule for Pence’s book launch next week is already packed with chances for him to make news. He will sit down for an interview ABC News anchor David Muir Monday evening. On Wednesday, he will be subject to a CNN Town Hall hosted by anchor Jake Tapper. He is also expected to attend a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition and mingle with the party’s mega-donors next weekend.
It could also get a boost from Trump himself, who has repeatedly teased his formal launch of a bid for the White House in 2024. The latest release date for Trump’s introduction is Tuesday, the release date of Pence’s book.
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