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What Did Mike Pence Tell Jack Smith?

[Above video from MSNBC’s The Last Word, “Trump election indictment shows Mike Pence will be Jack Smith’s star witness.” August 1, 2023 — eds.]

Last spring, Mike Pence testified to a federal grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Pence was quoted in the federal criminal indictment against Trump for efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, but in that indictment, special counsel Jack Smith was clearly holding back much of what he knew, saving it for trial. Now ABC News reports additional details of what Pence had to say.

According to ABC’s unnamed sources, Pence repeatedly insisted on his continuing loyalty to Trump, saying, “My only higher loyalty was to God and the Constitution.” He also (and this fills in the backstory on one of the minor mysteries of the days around Jan. 6, 2021) seriously considered not presiding over the certification of votes on that day.

“Not feeling like I should attend electoral count,” Pence wrote in his notes in late December. “Too many questions, too many doubts, too hurtful to my friend. Therefore I’m not going to participate in certification of election.

The day before the certification, Sen. Chuck Grassley announced that Pence would not be attending the certification, leaving Grassley to preside. Pence swiftly contradicted him—but it seems like Grassley didn’t just manufacture that claim.

It was Pence’s son, a Marine, who reportedly convinced him to go to the Capitol and preside over the certification. He said, “Dad, you took the same oath I took,” which is to say, “an oath to support and defend the Constitution.”

The emphasis on Pence’s regret and abiding loyalty to Trump—as well as the overall lack of leaks from the special counsel’s office—strongly suggest that ABC’s sources were from the Pence camp. If so, the continuing effort to show that he was a good Trump loyalist to the end, despite his principled and pained conclusion that President Joe Biden was the legitimate winner in 2020 and that the Constitution did not permit Pence as vice president to overturn that election, is just sad. “Too hurtful to my friend,” wrote the man whose “friend” weeks later sent a mob chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.”

Ah, but about that:

According to sources, when Pence spoke with Smith’s team earlier this year, he said Trump’s words that morning “didn’t help,” and he said Trump “acted recklessly” as the Capitol was under siege. But Pence also said he will “never believe” Trump meant for Jan. 6 to become violent.

Sure, Mike.

ABC also reports that Pence emphasized the conversations in which he told Trump that he could not alter the election results and that he did not believe there had been fraud that altered the election results. He also said there is “no doubt” that Trump “knew what I thought of” outside attorneys like Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, who were encouraging Trump to believe he’d won even as the White House attorneys told him he’d lost.

Trump is currently scheduled to be tried on these charges in March. This report could be a preview of any testimony Pence might give in that trial. If so, expect the sanctimony to be laid on with a trowel. But it’s worth it, because he really can show that Trump had every reason to know that he lost, and that Trump’s denial was willful and implausible.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

Ed. Note: The last few paragraphs of the ABC News story lay out Trump’s strategy, and it’s pretty evil.

In an overnight court filing, Trump’s attorneys suggested — without evidence — that Pence may have been under pressure to incriminate Trump when he testified before the special counsel, given the Justice Department’s separate investigation into Pence’s handling of classified materials after leaving the White House.

In January of this year, Pence’s attorneys notified the government of a handful of documents with classified markings that were found at his Indiana home, prompting the FBI to conduct a search where they found one additional classified document.

The DOJ’s National Security Division informed Pence in June that they had closed their investigation into the matter, and that no criminal charges would be sought.

The potential criminal charges faced by Vice President Pence gave him an incentive to curry favor with authorities by providing information that is consistent with the Biden Administration’s preferred, and false, narrative regarding this case,” Trump attorney Todd Blanche said in a filing Monday evening that was filed with the court before news broke regarding the details of what Pence told investigators.

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