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Pence refused to leave Capitol, suggested Insurrection Act for BLM protests: What new books say about VP

4 min read
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/07/22/pence-refused-leave-capitol-ordered-troops-new-trump-books/8039176002/
  • Recent books on Trump show new insight on VP Mike Pence.
  • Pence refuses to bow to Trump pressure to reject 2020 election results.
  • Pence suggested invoking Insurrection Act during George Floyd protests.

WASHINGTON – Summer 2021 may be remembered for all that was revealed in a spate of books on former President Donald Trump’s last year in office.

Michael Wolff’s “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency,”; Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender’s “‘Frankly, We Did Win This Election’: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost,”; and “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,” by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker have delved into the Trump administration’s chaotic actions during 2020. 

They also reveal details on former Vice President Mike Pence’s role in Trump’s descent into believing false election fraud conspiracy theories and during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot. 

Here are five things we learned about Pence as a deferential vice president who finally stood up to his boss during the unprecedented aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.

‘Anarchy and chaos’:Michael Bender book describes turmoil in Trump White House

Pence pushes back during electoral certification process

Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, was a crucial player in guiding the former vice president’s final days after Trump lost the election, according to Wolff in “Landslide.”

Short was not one of the aides in the administration who believed in the false election fraud claims spewed by Trump and other conspiracy theorists. After the election, Short “began to carefully plot the vice president’s final days.” 

“Short was privately telling both party leaders and West Wing aides that there was ‘zero debate’ in the Vice President’s Office about his role in presiding over the electoral vote count,” Wolff writes. 

During a Jan. 5 meeting with constitutional scholar John Eastman, Pence pushed back against Eastman’s arguments that he did have the power to accept or reject electors during the certification process. In “Frankly, We Did Win,” Bender alleges that “Pence thought Trump was getting bad legal advice.”

Vice President Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 intending to confirm Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election before a mob of Donald Trump's supporters invaded the Capitol and lawmakers fled for safety.

After the meeting with Eastman, “Pence and Short believed they could not have been clearer about their views and about the actions the vice president would take, and those he would not,” Wolff adds.

Trump, however, continued to believe Pence would stop Congress from certifying the election. 

Related:Michael Wolff’s ‘Landslide’ recounts Trump’s Brett Kavanaugh rant, fury at Netanyahu

Pence refuses to leave Capitol during Jan. 6 riot

As pro-Trump rioters ransacked the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, Pence’s Secret Service detail were hurriedly securing him into safety. 

Pence was moved to his ceremonial office during the riot but was still in a vulnerable spot. Tim Giebels, the lead special agent in charge of Pence’s detail, twice asked the vice president to evacuate the Capitol.

Pence refused.

“I’m not leaving the Capitol,” he told Giebels, according to the account in “I Alone.” 

Giebels asked Pence a third time to leave.

“The room you’re in is not secure. There are glass windows. I need to move you. We’re going.”

Pence was moved “to a secured subterranean area that rioters couldn’t reach, where Pence’s armored limousine awaited.”

However, Pence still refused to get into the limousine, fearing he would be seen fleeing the Capitol, vindicating the rioters.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks to National Guard troops outside the U.S. Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Washington.

A calm Pence orders troops to the Capitol

As military leaders are figuring out how to deploy the National Guard and federal law enforcement of neighboring states to the Capitol, Pence called acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller from his secured location, according to the account in “I Alone.”

“Get troops here; get them here now,” a calm Pence ordered of Miller. “We’ve got to get the Congress to do its business.”

“Yes, sir,” Miller replied. 

This was the sternest Miller had ever heard Pence speak, Leonnig and Rucker write in “I Alone.”

More from ‘I Alone’:In new book, Trump brags that even a founding father might not have beaten him

Pence suggests invoking the Insurrection Act 

Trump summoned top military, law enforcement and West Wing advisers to the White House after the New York Times reported that he, Melania Trump and son Barron were moved to a basement bunker during protests that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death

During the White House meeting, it was Pence who suggested invoking the Insurrection Act, according to “Frankly, We Did Win.”

Are you freaking kidding me? One senior administration official thought,” Bender alleges.

Trump became fixated on the insurrection after Pence brought it up. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley “was horrified by Pence’s suggestion,” Bender recounts.

Trump is OK with Pence as a rival in 2024

Trump has continuously flirted with running for office again in 2024, where he could encounter his vice president as a rival

When asked about this by Leonnig and Rucker in “I Alone,” Trump told the reporters, “It’s a free country right?” 

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks to a crowd during an event sponsored by the Palmetto Family organization on April 29, 2021 in Columbia, South Carolina. The address was his first since the end of his vice presidency.

Trump did not commit to choosing Pence as a running mate and rejected former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as running mates.

He also expressed “disappointment” with Pence for certifying the results of the 2020 election in “I Alone” as well as in “Frankly, We Did Win” and “Landslide.”

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