While presenting evidence of former President Donald Trump’s “pressure campaign” to convince former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results of the 2020 election, the Jan. 6 committee on Thursday highlighted a meeting the two men had the day before the 2021 Capitol riot during which Trump reportedly told Pence they would no longer be friends if Pence refused.
Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., a member of the House select committee, read aloud a portion of their Oval Office conversation, which was first reported in the book “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
Trump reportedly asked Pence that if White House lawyers said he had the power to reject the results of the election, “wouldn’t you want to?”
“I wouldn’t want any one person to have that authority,” Pence told Trump, according to the book.
“But wouldn’t it almost be cool to have that power?” Trump asked.
“No,” Pence replied. “Look, I’ve read this, and I don’t see a way to do it. We’ve exhausted every option. I’ve done everything I could and then some to find a way around this. It’s simply not possible.”
The president was insistent.
“No, no, no, you don’t understand, Mike. You can do this,” he told Pence, adding: “I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this.”
In video testimony shown during Thursday’s hearing, Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, told the committee that the vice president had also told him he would not want the power to overturn the election “bestowed on any one person.”
Greg Jacob, who served as Pence’s chief counsel, and J. Michael Luttig, a former federal judge who advised Pence in the lead-up to Jan. 6, testified in person that they told the vice president there was no legal basis for him to overturn the results of the election.
The hearing was the third in a series planned by the bipartisan panel stemming from its 11-month investigation of the Capitol attack.
The committee says it has collected evidence that Trump knew his claims of election fraud were false but continued to promote them — fomenting anger among his supporters and culminating in their violent attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Pence was presiding over the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.