Even as a hyped-up mob descended on the Capitol, the president railed at the vice president who had served him with zeal though very hard times. “Mike Pence,” he perversely tweeted, “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”

Predictably, when the mob stormed the building, rioters could be heard chanting, “Where is Pence?” Messages were exchanged on internet sites used by extremists to communicate indicating that a hunt for Pence was under way by some of the insurrectionists, who ripped through the building, violently attacking congressional chambers and offices. We now know that, with the vice president and lawmakers under siege, the president refused initial pleas to deploy the National Guard to reinforce the overwhelmed police. In the deadly melee, one woman was shot to death by security forces, and three other people died as a result of what’s been described as “separate medical emergencies.”

Pence defended the Constitution under fire. And he preserved it, along with congressional leadership and lawmakers in both chambers, by reassembling when the building was finally secured. Into the wee hours of the morning they worked to fulfill their vote-counting obligation and declare Biden as the nation’s next president.