The Jan. 6 select committee has heard testimony indicating that then-President Donald Trump — after rioters who swarmed the Capitol began chanting “hang Mike Pence” — expressed support for hanging his vice president, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The White House chief of staff at the time, Mark Meadows, was in the dining room off the Oval Office with Trump at one point during last year’s Capitol attack, the committee has been told. Meadows then left the dining room and informed other people nearby that Trump had signaled a positive view of the prospect of hanging the vice president, the panel heard.
Meadows’ account as it was described to the committee came after some members of the mob converging on the Capitol had broken into chants of “Hang Mike Pence!” Those chants were a reaction to Pence's decision to accept electoral votes that indicated Joe Biden had won the presidency.
POLITICO could not independently verify the veracity of the claim regarding Meadows’ comments.
Two of the people who spoke for this story said the committee has heard testimony on this topic from more than one person. All three people spoke on condition of anonymity.
Reached for comment, Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich blasted the committee.
“This partisan committee's vague ‘leaks,’ anonymous testimony, and willingness to alter evidence proves it's just an extension of the Democrat smear campaign that has been exposed time and time again for being fabricated and dishonest,” he said. “Americans are tired of the Democrat lies and the charades, but, sadly, it's the only thing they have to offer.”
A member of Meadows' legal team, who declined to be named, told POLITICO that the account is "totally incorrect regarding Meadows." An aide to Pence did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Meadows has refused to testify to the select committee investigating the pro-Trump siege since he was subpoenaed in September. He initially engaged in negotiations with the panel and provided thousands of private text messages, but then filed suit against the select committee and Verizon to block a subpoena for his phone records. In December, the House held Meadows in contempt of Congress and referred him to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. DOJ has not charged him with any crime.
The testimony about Meadows’ account represents some of the committee’s most detailed allegations about Trump’s state of mind as a mob of his supporters smashed through police lines and disrupted the counting of electoral votes that would confirm Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. The panel has been meticulously reconstructing Trump’s actions, comments and movements that day, with a particular focus on his activity as the violence escalated.
Trump did not speak to Pence during the riot, even after learning that the Secret Service had ushered him to a secure location under the Capitol plaza. Their last call came at 11:20 that morning, when Trump urged Pence to refuse to count Biden’s electors and Pence subsequently declined.
Trump publicly expressed outrage at Pence during the riot via a 2:24 p.m. tweet.
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,” he said, igniting a fresh wave of anger among the crowd that had breached the Capitol.
Trump’s tweet arrived 10 minutes after rioters had first broken into the Capitol through a Senate-wing window, and it was posted four minutes before Pence arrived at the secure Capitol location where he holed up with his security team for hours.
The New York Times was first to report on the account of Trump's comments as told to the Jan. 6 select committee.