The moment Pence saw Trump's tweet

If I had to define Trumpism in two images, one would be the shot of him holding up a Bible outside St. John’s Church moments after police had roughed up protesters in Lafayette Square.


The other would be the photo above.

The committee did a poor job of explaining what was depicted in the new images released today of Pence sheltering in a Capitol loading dock on January 6 while rioters rampaged through the building looking for him. They did highlight one image of him looking at a Trump tweet on his phone, but not the most notorious tweet Trump sent that day. The one the committee flagged was Trump’s tweet finally asking the rioters to disperse after several hours.

The more interesting photo, however, is of Pence seemingly grimacing as he looked at the screen on Marc Short’s phone. That’s the photo I highlighted in my screencap. What does that one show?

The committee didn’t say, but according to ABC reporter Jonathan Karl, that’s the moment when Pence finally saw the infamous tweet Trump had posted after the insurrectionists had breached the building and were threatening Pence’s life: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”


That’s what was on Trump’s mind while he watched rioters batter cops outside, minutes before Pence had to flee the main floor of the Capitol so that fascist goons wouldn’t lynch him in front of his wife. Trump was still berating this guy, who’d been his right-hand man for four years, while the Capitol was being sacked.

Want to see how close they got to him? Watch:

One of the most alarming bits of testimony to come out of today’s hearing was Trump’s former counsel, Greg Jacob, claiming that the Secret Service offered to evacuate Pence from the Capitol in case the rioters stumbled onto his hiding place. Pence refused, not wanting to let the insurrection succeed at disrupting the important electoral business that had yet to be finished. Ask yourself what Trump, who was questioning Pence’s courage at that hour, would have done in the same circumstances.

The alarming part is what Jacob had to say about Pence’s reasoning. What did Pence, as quoted by Jacob, mean when he told his top Secret Service officer that he trusted him but “you’re not the one behind the wheel”?


I don’t know how else to take that except that Pence feared the car’s driver might be under orders to … kidnap him, essentially, by keeping him away from the Capitol so that the certification process couldn’t resume that evening.

That’s the implication, no? That Pence — understandably — had reached the point where he thought Trump was so sick with authoritarian derangement that he might try to have his own vice president banished to some holding place in order to obstruct Congress from doing its business.

If he was willing to shrug at a violent mob attacking Congress in order to cling to power, why wouldn’t he connive to kidnap his own running mate?

The piece you want to read today is the statement to the committee by former federal judge Michael Luttig, who testified this afternoon. Luttig advised Pence before January 6 that he had no power under the law to block certification of the electoral votes, no matter what Trump might say to the contrary. Whenever I mention Luttig, I’m at pains to explain to readers who don’t follow legal news that he’s no squish and no random judge. He was a shortlister for the Supreme Court during the Bush era and was seen as a sort of Circuit Court Scalia. Ambitious young conservative law students competed to clerk for him, knowing that having Luttig’s name on their resume significantly boosted their chances of clerking for the Supremes. Ted Cruz clerked for him and considered him a mentor.


The guy is mortified at what his party has become under Trump. From the statement:

If one of our national political parties — one of the two political guardians of our democracy — cannot agree even as to whether the violent riot and occupation of the United States Capitol, inspired by the President of the United States and carried out by his followers to prevent Congress from counting the votes for the presidency of those same United States, was reprehensible insurrection or needed, legitimate political discourse, we all can agree on nothing.

Nor should we.

The former president’s party cynically and embarrassingly rationalizes January 6 as having been something between hallowed, legitimate public discourse and a visitors tour of the Capitol that got out of hand. January 6, of course, was neither, and the former president and his party know that. It was not legitimate public discourse by any definition. Nor was it a civics tour of the Capitol Building — though that day proved to be an eye-opening civics lesson for all Americans…

[F]or the rest of us Americans, the time has come for us to decide whether we allow this war over our democracy to be prosecuted to its catastrophic end or whether we ourselves demand the immediate suspension of this war and insist on peace instead.

Here he is wrapping up his testimony today and using his time wisely to stress the key point of the hearings: The threat isn’t over. In some ways, it’s gotten worse.


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