Pence Disputes Trump Team's Characterization Of Lead-Up To Jan. 6

Former Vice President Mike Pence refuted the notion that former President Donald Trump only asked him to delay the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, to allow for audits of state election results, disputing the characterization of their interactions made by some members of Trump's legal team.

Sunday, August 6th 2023, 6:32 pm

By: CBS News


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Former Vice President Mike Pence refuted the notion that former President Donald Trump only asked him to delay the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, to allow for audits of state election results, disputing the characterization of their interactions made by some members of Trump's legal team.

"That's not what happened," Pence said during an interview with "Face the Nation" that aired Sunday.

"From sometime in the middle of December, the president began to be told that I had some authority to reject or return votes back to the states," he continued. "I had no such authority."

On Tuesday, Trump was indicted for a second time on federal charges. This most recent indictment stemmed from his efforts to remain in power after losing the 2020 presidential election, efforts which culminated in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The indictment included four charges against Trump: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights.

One of the allegations against Trump is that he attempted to enlist Pence to use his ceremonial role in affirming the electoral vote count on Jan. 6 to "fraudulently overturn the results of the election." Pence has said Trump went beyond asking him to pause the count for an audit and urged him to reject the Biden electors outright, in the hopes of tipping the election in Trump's favor.

"There was no discretion ever given to the vice president in history, nor should there ever be," Pence told "Face the Nation." "I had no right to overturn the election and Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024."

John Lauro, an attorney for Trump, responded to Pence's comments on Sunday, telling "Face the Nation" that his position is consistent with Pence's version of events.

"What I said is the ultimate ask of Vice President Pence was to pause the count and allow the states to weigh in. That was my statement, and what I've said is consistent with what Vice President Pence is saying," Lauro said. "The reason why Vice President Pence will be so important to the defense is ... number one, he agrees that John Eastman, who gave legal advice to President Trump, was an esteemed legal scholar. Number two, he agrees that there were election irregularities, fraud, unlawful actions at the state level. All of that will eviscerate any allegation of criminal intent on the part of President Trump."

Pence's notes

The indictment refers to contemporaneous notes taken by the vice president in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, when prosecutors allege Trump repeatedly pressured him to reject the electoral votes.

"From time to time, particularly at important moments, I had a practice of scribbling a note or two on my calendar just to memorialize it and remember it and I did that in this case," he told "Face the Nation." "I generally didn't make a practice of taking notes in meetings over the four year period of time."

But "given the momentous events that were unfolding," he took a few notes to remind himself of what had been said. 

"From very early on, the very first time the president raised the issue with me, that he was being told that I had the right to overturn the election to reject or return votes, I told him, I knew I had no such authority," Pence said.

"I truly do believe that, you know, no one who ever puts himself over the Constitution should ever be President of the United States," Pence added.

The former vice president also recalled an occasion before Christmas 2020 when Trump asked him "what he thought we ought to do."

"We were just the two of us in the Oval Office," Pence said. 

"I remember, I looked at him and I said, look, let all the lawsuits play out, let the Congress do their work, to consider objections. But I said, at the end of the day, if the election goes the other way, I said we ought to take a bow, we ought to travel around the country," he said.

"And I remember, the president is standing in front of his desk, listening very intently to me, and I'll never forget the way he just kind of pointed at me as if to, as if to say, that's worth thinking about," Pence continued. "But I don't know what was in his mind at the time."

When asked if he would testify if the case against Trump went to trial, Pence said he would if summoned.

"We'll respond to the call of the law if it comes and we'll just tell the truth," said Pence.

He also added that he "would hope" Trump would receive a fair trial in the District of Columbia.

"Whatever the outcome of this indictment," Pence said, "I know I did my duty that day."

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