Former Vice President Mike Pence is not expected to appear when the House Select Committee holds its prime-time hearing — the first of its scheduled public hearings — on Thursday. Yet Pence’s key role in presiding over the counting of the Electoral College votes is expected to take center stage in the select committee’s presentation.
Pence didn’t cooperate directly with the select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, but people close to the former vice president received invitations to appear for the public hearings.
The Washington Post reported that J. Micheal Luttig, a former federal judge who publicly rejected the notion that Pence had the authority to deny electoral votes, was invited by the select committee to testify at the public hearings. Pence aides Marc Short and Greg Jacob also received outreach from the select committee and are expected to testify.
Short, who served as Pence’s closest aides and vice presidential chief of staff, was with him the entire day on January 6, per CNN. He’s also a firsthand witness to the pressure campaign engineered by former President Trump and his top allies to get Pence to withhold certification of the 2020 election results.
New details have emerged in recent months about Pence’s actions on January 6, when he rebuffed overwhelming Republican pressure to reject electoral votes from states Joe Biden won while a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol and threatened his life.
“I anticipate that we will hear about Mike Pence on Thursday night. You can’t tell the story without him," said Norm Eisen, a special counsel to Democrats during Trump’s first impeachment, who has co-authored a guide to the select committee hearings.
Eisen also noted that elucidating how Pence rejected the false suggestions proposed by top Trump allies would rebut GOP attempts to paint the committee and its findings as partisan.
“So, the other way that Pence comes in is as a dose of reality in response to these lunatic legal theories that were circulating. So that’s an important part of the narrative,” Eisen said.
To outline for viewers the GOP’s “coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power,” the select committee will stress the significance of Pence’s refusal to leave the Capitol after the rioters entered the building — a move that denied Trump supporters an opportunity to enact their plans.
"I think something that stood out to me is that there were certain people who were in the right place and did the right thing. They followed the law. They were courageous. They stood up to pressure, like the former vice president, for example," said Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), a member of the select committee. "It was a tragic event for our country, and there were villains that day, of course. But there were people who were heroic, who through their actions really prevented a much worse outcome."
Despite incurring widespread conservative wrath for refusing to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Trump’s favor, Pence has continued to insist he did the right thing. In February, the former vice president insisted that Trump had been wrong to suggest Pence could change the outcome of the 2020 election.
“Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election,” Pence said in a public statement.
Pence has distanced himself from the bipartisan House Select Committee, and his representatives have refused to confirm or deny whether the former president was invited to testify.
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