Trump’s plot to get Pence to try and overturn the election was ‘illegal’ and he was warned multiple times: Retired judge tells January 6 committee there have been a ‘a revolution within a constitutional crisis’ if VP had refused to certify Biden’s win
- Multiple Republican officials on Thursday testified that Donald Trump’s push to get Mike Pence to overturn the election results was ‘illegal’
- Committee investigating January 6th insurrection sought to show the immense pressure Pence was under from Trump to overturn the election results
- Retired U.S. Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig, who was an informal adviser to Pence during that time said that was ‘consitutional mischief’
- Luttig testified that if Pence had followed Trump’s orders it ‘would have plunged America into what I believe, would have been tantamount to a revolution within a Constitutional crisis’
Multiple Republican officials on Thursday testified that Donald Trump‘s push to get Mike Pence to overturn the election results was ‘illegal’ and that then vice president withstood massive political pressure in not following Trump’s wishes.
Thursday’s hearing delved deep into constitutional law and the role of the vice president in overseeing the certification of the electoral college.
Trump and his supporters argued Pence could reject those results in his role as president of the Senate.
Pence and his legal team argued his role was ceremonial as outlined in the 12th amendment, which says: ‘The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.’
Retired U.S. Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig, who was an informal adviser to Pence during that time, spoke slowly about the vice president’s role but his words carried weight. Luttig is widely respected among conservatives for his interpretation of the consitution while he sat on the federal bench.
Luttig testified that if the then-vice president had followed Trump’s orders then ‘that declaration of Donald Trump as the next president would have plunged America into what I believe, would have been tantamount to a revolution within a Constitutional crisis.’
The committee showed the various theories being banded about by Trump and his supporters to try and overthrow Joe Biden’s victory, including have Pence recognize slates of alternative state electors who would support Trump instead of Biden and having Pence reject the results from seven states in order to send the election back to the House.
Luttig called the theories ‘constitutional mischief.’
The committee also sought to show the pressure Pence was under to cave into Trump’s demands.
The panel played a video montage of testimony from witnesses describing Trump’s call on the morning of January 6 to Pence where they said Trump called Pence ‘a wimp’ and ‘the p-word.’
Retired U.S. Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig, who was an informal adviser to Pence during that time, testified that if Pence had followed Trump’s orders it ‘would have plunged America into what I believe, would have been tantamount to a revolution within a Constitutional crisis’
Donald Trump and his supporters were pressuring Mike Pence to overturn the election results despite being told it was ‘illegal’ and Pence himself told Trump he did not have such power
The panel played clips of Trump’s speech on January 6th pushing Pence to ‘come through for us’ and showed testimony from officials in Trump’s White House saying Pence was being pushed to throw out the electoral results – even though he had told Trump he didn’t have the constitutional power to do so.
The panel also showed clips of MAGA supporters marching on the Capitol on January 6th. One threatened to drag politicians through the streets because Pence ‘caved.’ Others chanted: ‘Bring out Pence!’ And others yelled: ‘Hang Mike Pence!’
Both Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, and Greg Jacob, Pence’s legal counsel, testified that Pence personally told Trump he did not have the authority to overturn the results of the electoral college well ahead of January 6th.
Short, in video testimony played by the committee, said there were ‘many times’ Pence personally told Trump he could not make such a move.
Jacob described a meeting he attended in the Oval Office between Trump and Pence where the then-vice president ‘never budged’ from his stance that he could not consitutionally overturn the election.
The committee focused on two theories being pushed by Trump supporters.
One theory came from Kenneth Chesebro, an attorney advising Trump’s campaign, who sent a memo to Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The ‘Chesebro memo’ – as it became known – suggested that a handful of states that Biden won should present a set of ‘alternative electors.’ Pence should then recognize those alternative electors, who would support Trump.
Chesebro argued the Pence could say that ‘he, and he alone, is charged with the constitutional responsibility not just to open the votes, but to count them — including making judgments about what to do if there are conflicting votes.’
Pence’s team had rejected that idea.
Luttig testified that ‘there was no support whatsoever in either the Constitution of the United States nor the laws of the United States for the vice president frankly ever to count alternative electoral slates from the states that had not been officially certified.’
Greg Jacob, Pence’s legal counsel, testified that Pence personally told Trump he did not have the authority to overturn the results of the electoral college
Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, said in video testimony that Pence told Donald Trump he could not over turn the election
Attorney John Eastman offered another option.
His memo outlined a scenario in which Pence would disregard seven states’ Electoral College votes – thus ensuring no candidate received the 270 Electoral College votes required to be declared the winner.
The election would then be decided by the House.
Each state delegation would then have had one vote to cast for president, and since Republicans controlled 26 state delegations, a majority could have voted for Trump to win the election.
Jacob noted the consitutition ‘is unambiguous that the Vice President does not have the authority to reject electors. there is no suggestion of any kind, that it does. There is no mention of rejecting or objecting to electors anywhere in the 12th amendment.’
Jacob said Pence’s team looked at the constitution, legal precedent and American history when making their determination about Pence’s role in the certification of the election.
‘No vice president in 230 years of history had ever claimed to have that kind of authority – hadn’t claimed authority to reject electoral votes, had not claimed authority to return electoral votes back to the States in the entire history of the United States. Not once had a joint session ever returned electoral votes back to the States to be counted,’ he noted.
He also pointed out that Al Gore oversaw the certification of results for the 2020 election, where Gore was defeated by George W. Bush after a long legal battle over Flordia’s votes. He noted Gore did not demand the Florida results be overturned or for the election to be sent back to that state.
And there were concerns there would be a violence in the streets if Pence tried to overturn the results.
Former White House attorney Eric Herschmann, in his video testimony, recalled he said to Eastman: ‘Are you out of your effing mind?’
‘I said, you’re gonna turn around and tell 78 plus million people in this country that your theory is this is how you’re going to invalidate their votes because you think election was stolen,’ he noted. ‘They’re not going to tolerate that. You’re going to cause riots in the streets.’
He said Eastman responded with a shrug and said: ‘There’s been violence in the history of our country to protect the democracy or protect the Republic.’
Thursday’s hearing from the January 6th committee focused on Trump’s efforts to pressure Pence to refuse to count and certify the electoral count.
MAGA supporters were heard yelling ‘Hang Mike Pence’ as they marched on the Capitol on January 6th – a noose was errected outside the building
The third January 6 hearing on Thursday will focus on Donald Trump’s pressure campaign to get Vice President Mike Pence to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election results. Pictured: Pence sits with daughter, Charlotte (left), and brother, Greg, as his wife, Karen (right), draws the curtains in the ceremonial room off the Senate floor where he was evacuated to on January 6, 2021, as Trump supporters attacked U.S. Capitol
Mike Pence, after the insurrection, returned to the Capitol to oversee the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election
A central figure in the hearing was attorney John Eastman, who pushed the theory Pence, in his role as vice president, could block the certification of Joe Biden‘s victory.
Eastman, who once served as clerk for Clarence Thomas at the Supreme Court, outlined scenarios for denying Biden the presidency in legal memos and in an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4 with Trump and Pence, according to previous reports.
In the days leading up to the January 6th certification, Trump delivered a string of tweets demanding that Pence use his position to prevent Congress certifying his election defeat to Joe Biden.
Pence had already told the president he had no such power.
Eastman, however, wrote a memo arguing Pence could overthrow the election results when he oversaw the certification of the electoral college count on January 6th.
And Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, emailed with Eastman about the matter, reported The Washington Post on Wednesday.
Eastman had told Jacob, Pence’s legal counsel, that Clarence Thomas would back their argument if the matter went to the Supreme Court.
Jacob, according to a report earlier this year from Politico, told the panel in previous testimony that when Eastman pushed for Pence to throw the election back to the states, he said to him: ‘If this case got to the Supreme Court, we’d lose 9-0, wouldn’t we, if we actually took your position and it got up there?’
Eastman told him he thought the court would vote 7-2.
Jacob noted he replied: ‘And I said, ‘Who are the two?’ And he said, ‘Well, I think maybe Clarence Thomas.’ And I said, ‘Really? Clarence Thomas?’ And so we went through a few Thomas opinions and, finally, he acknowledged, ‘yeah, all right, it would be 9-0.’
Attorney John Eastman, who once served as clerk for Clarence Thomas at the Supreme Court, outlined scenarios for denying Joe Biden the presidency
Thursday’s hearing on January 6th insurrection will focus on Donald Trump’s pressure campaign on Mike Pence to overturn the election results
Constitutional scholars and Pence, himself, disagreed with Eastman’s interpretation of the vice president’s role in the largely ceremonial process.
Pence’s former chief of staff Marc Short told CNN on Wednesday that Pence did his duty by certifying the election results.
‘He knew it from the beginning, and I think he was clear with the president and so was our office clear about what we viewed his role as. I think that, you know, for any limited government conservative I don’t think he’d want the notion that our founders would have thought any one person would have been bestowed with that much authority to overturn election results. So I think the they he approached this was what does the constitution say,’ Short told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
‘He did his duty. He swore an oath to uphold the constitution. He swore an oath to god to uphold the constitution just as our men and women in uniform do,’ he said.
The committee had been in a legal battle with Eastman for months over whether his former employer, Chapman University, could turn over to the committee the contents of his university email account, which is what he used to email many Trump officials.
Eastman claimed attorney-client privilege over some of the documents. A judge reviewed the emails and ordered hundreds turned over to the committee.
The days leading up to January 6th led to tension between Trump and Pence as the then-vice president made it clear he would not do as Trump asked.
But Trump denied he wanted his vice president harmed that day.
During last Thursday evening’s hearing, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, who serves on the panel investigating the insurrection, said of Trump: ‘Aware of the rioters’ chants to ‘hang Mike Pence,’ the president responded with this sentiment: ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea.’ Mike Pence ‘deserves’ it.’
There were gasps in the hearing room at her words.
‘I NEVER said, or even thought of saying, ‘Hang Mike Pence.’ This is either a made up story by somebody looking to become a star, or FAKE NEWS!,’ Trump wrote in response the next day on Truth Social.