Pence reportedly had shared his views with then-President Donald Trump in a meeting the previous day. Nonetheless, in a tweet Jan. 6, Trump wrote that if Pence “comes through for us, we will win the Presidency.”
Understanding how events progressed from there is crucial to passing judgment on Trump’s culpability for one of the darkest days our democracy has ever experienced.
Again on the morning of Jan. 6, Trump claimed on Twitter that Pence had the power to reject states’ certification, thus delaying the process and ultimately giving him the win. Wrote Trump, “All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”
Midday, Pence went to the Capitol to preside over a joint session of Congress to count the electoral college votes.
At a rally on the Ellipse around the same time, Trump falsely told his supporters that “this election was stolen from you, from me, from the country,” declaring, also falsely, that he won “in a landslide.” He said the day “is not the end, it is just the beginning,” and stated that he “will never give up, we will never concede.”
Trump called on Pence to act, saying if he didn’t, “it will be a sad day for the country.”
Trump described for the crowd a recent conversation he had with Pence, in which he urged Pence to send electoral votes back to the states. “I just spoke to Mike. I said ‘Mike, that doesn’t take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing.’”
Following the rally, a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. In the midst of the violence and destruction, Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”
During the riots at the Capitol, some of Trump’s loyal disciples who invaded the building were captured on video chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.”
According to the FBI, one man who was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct after making his way into the Senate chamber said in a YouTube video: “Once we found out Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election, like, officially, the crowd went crazy. I mean, it became a mob.”
And who told the mob that Pence had not come through for him — or them?
Who lied to and provoked his devoted supporters to go after the vice president of the United States?
Through it all, Pence stood tall. When he reopened the proceedings, he told Trump’s rioting thugs “you did not win.” Speaking from the Senate dais, which members of the mob had fouled with their presence hours earlier, Pence said it was “a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.” He promised that “the world will again witness the resilience and strength of our democracy.”
So here we are.
Trump brought the calamity on Congress. Because of him, a mob invaded the Senate chamber, rifled through senators’ desks, took papers, broke and destroyed, and lounged with obvious contempt in the Senate president’s chair.
The question of the hour — the only question — is whether Republicans in the upper chamber, sitting as jurors, have the integrity, the respect for the Constitution and the law, as well as the guts to stand up on behalf of their own body against the narcissistic and amoral Donald Trump.
Any senator who ducks, hedges and dances around the truth of Trump’s lawlessness and shameful misconduct is unworthy of the honor bestowed upon them by American voters.