Thursday was the day for Mike Pence’s turn in the spotlight, but the former vice president did not appear before the House Jan. 6 committee. Was he in the undisclosed location he was ushered to on Jan. 6?
I don’t know whether his absence is a reflection of continuing, if misplaced, loyalty to Donald J. Trump, or a move to preserve his standing as a possible political replacement for his former boss. In any event, his ears must have been burning, in a pleasurable way, as he was name checked as courageous by various members of Congress.
The committee wants to prove Trump put Pence under pressure to not certify the results of the 2020 election. It succeeded.
In any event, there were stand-ins for the absent former No. 2.
For a change, the committee started out with a haymaker, in the form of conservative legal authority, and retired appellate judge, J. Michael Luttig, who hit Trump’s acolytes like a tornado ripping through a trailer park.
Had Pence followed Trump’s orders to delay or stop the certification of the election, the Constitution would have been “supremely violated,” said Luttig, who spoke haltingly, almost as if he had to push apples through a pipe.
“I would have laid my body across the road before I would let the vice president overturn the 2020 election,” said Luttig.
According to Pence lawyer Greg Jacob, the vice president knew from the jump he did not have the authority to interfere with the vote count.
If Pence wore a white hat, the black hats were worn by Trump, and by lawyer John Eastman, who developed a theory that the XII Amendment to the Constitution contained language that permitted a vice president to block the certification of the vote.
Luttig and Jacob both tore that apart, as did Pence (on video). White House lawyer Eric Herschmann (on video) told Eastman, ”Are you out of your f’n mind?”
Over time, testimony proved that Trump pressured Pence time and time again to interfere with the vote count. Most of the legal minds agreed Pence had no such power. Even Fox News host and Trump loyalist, Sean Hannity, in a text suggested that Trump’s action would cause the White House legal staff to resign, and that would bring disaster.
But Trump did not urge the Jan. 6 crowd to go after Pence. Trump said he would be “very disappointed” in Pence if he failed to act, but he did not urge them to act. They got that idea on its own, after Pence announced he would not interfere with the vote count. This infuriated the mopes who believed Trump’s lie that he had won the election. He did not, as the committee proved with the testimony of Trump’s inner circle,
It was a moment of political courage by Pence, yes, but how much actual danger? Members of the committee made much about the gallows that had been brought to the Capitol by the Trumpsters chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.”
That gallows looked like something made of Lincoln Logs, with a noose that seemed to be wrapped around a beer can attached to a beam that didn’t look sturdy enough to hold a man’s weight.
And had the crowd actually laid hands on Pence, do you think his armed Secret Service detail would have let him come to harm?
The same holds true for those who were looking for Nancy Pelosi. Would armed guards have allowed her to come to harm?
That aside, the Republican lawyers agreed that Trump’s demands on Pence were unconstitutional, and probably illegal. Key word — probably.
Trump’s actions were “the centerpiece of the plot to overturn the 2020 election,” said Luttig, omitting the opinion that such action would be sedition.
Once the riot had begun, instead of tweeting for his
goons followers to stop, Trump instead tweeted an attack on Pence.
“That was pouring gasoline on the fire,” said press aide Sarah Matthews.
What the committee has proved so far — all in the words of Trump’s inner circle — Trump was told without question that he had lost the election, and that Pence had no authority to do anything about the vote.
And none of that changed Trump’s actions.