Pence’s plan to reject election results ‘was insane’, Capitol hearing says

Donald Trump’s closest advisers have dismissed his latest attempts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to cancel the 2020 election as “crazy,” “lunatic,” and even likely instigators of unrest, witnesses told the Capitol’s riot control committee.

The new evidence also details how the crowd that stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C. came within 40 feet of where Mr. Pence and his team were hiding, highlighting the danger Mr. Trump put him in.

Using live testimony, including Mr. Pence’s lawyer, and other evidence from his year-long investigation, the panel analyzes how illegal and unconstitutional conservative lawyer John Eastman’s plan to reverse Joe Biden’s election victory is.

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President Donald Trump arrives to speak during a rally protesting Joe Biden’s Electoral College certification. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

The group said Trump’s pressure on Pence, including at the January 6 rally, led directly to the capitol uprising.

– You are crazy? said Eric Hershmann, a lawyer advising Mr Trump, told Mr Eastman in a recorded deposition shown at the hearing.

“Are you going to turn around and tell the 78+ million people in this country that your theory is that this is how you are going to annul their votes?” Mr Hershmann said.

He warned: “You will cause riots in the streets.”

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Former Vice President Mike Pence (Matt York/AP)

A text message from Fox News’ Sean Hannity to Trump Administration Chief Mark Meadows about the plan ahead of Jan. 6 read: “I’m very worried about the next 48 hours.”

Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said those around Trump called it “crazy.”

The commission opened its third hearing this month, showing that Trump’s false allegations of electoral fraud have forced him to seek alternatives as courts dismissed dozens of lawsuits challenging the vote.

Mr. Trump seized on Mr. Eastman’s highly unusual plan to challenge the historic precedent of the Electoral Count Act and began pressuring Mr. Pence publicly and privately as the Vice President was to preside over a joint session of Congress 6 January to certify the election of Mr. Biden.

The committee said the plan was illegal, and a federal judge said “more likely than not” Mr. Trump committed crimes in trying to stop the certification.

Commission chairman Benny Thompson opened the latest hearing by quoting Mr. Pence’s own words that “there is almost no idea more un-American” than the one he was asked to execute – to reject the vote.

By turning down Mr. Trump’s demands, Mr. Pence has “done his duty,” Republican Vice Chair Liz Cheney said.

Mr. Thompson said: “Our democracy was perilously close to disaster.”

The committee portrayed the exciting, albeit difficult, last days before the deadly uprising, as a defeated Trump pursued the theory that Mr. Pence could sway the election by endangering his vice president as the crowd heads for the Capitol.

Thursday’s session also provided new evidence of the danger Mr. Pence faced, as rioters near the Capitol chanted “Hang Mike Pence” with a makeshift gallows as the vice president fled with senators underground.

A video was shown of rioters spewing vulgarities about Mr. Pence as they made their way to the Capitol. Nine people died during the uprising and its aftermath.

Ahead of the hearing, Pence’s former chief of staff Mark Short said his boss was determined to stay at the Capitol that night and finish the job despite the threats.

“He knew his job was to stay in his post,” Short said Wednesday on CNN.

Mr. Short said Mr. Pence did not want the world to see the vice president leave the Capitol when “the hallmark of democracy” is under siege.