Donald Trump allegedly told Mike Pence he did not want to be “friends anymore” and that he had chosen “the wrong man four years ago” as demonstrators assembled in front of the US Capitol, a new book has claimed.
The incident, which was revealed by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in an upcoming book titled “Peril”, occurred the day before the US Capitol was assaulted on 6 January by Trump supporters.
CNN, which obtained a copy of the book before its 21 September release, reported that Mr Trump asked Mr Pence to overrule the results of the 2020 election in a tense exchange inside the Oval Office.
"I wouldn't want any one person to have that authority," Mr Pence allegedly told Mr Trump, who suggested that if “people say you had the power [to overturn the election], wouldn't you want to?”
The former president pressed Mr Pence and asked: “But wouldn't it be almost cool to have that power?”
Mr Pence, who was 24 hours away from presiding over a joint session of Congress to confirm the results of the 2020 presidential race, refused the former president’s request, saying “No”.
He was forced to flee the House chamber along with Democrat and Republican lawmakers as rioters assaulted the building on 6 January, in events that saw five people lose their lives.
In what was likely his final encounter with Mr Trump before that attack, Mr Pence went on to say that he had "done everything” he could to “find a way around this”, but that it was “simply not possible”.
Outraged, Mr Trump reportedly shouted: “No, no, no! You don't understand, Mike. You can do this. I don't want to be your friend anymore if you don't do this”.
“If you don't do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago,” the former president – who once complained to have “lost all my friends” while being in office – allegedly told Mr Pence. “You're going to wimp out.”
The book, which was written by former and current reporters for The Washington Post, including Mr Woodward – who reported on the Watergate scandal and has subsequently written detailed books about numerous presidents – allegedly says that Mr Trump again tried to convince Mr Pence to overrule the 2020 results on the morning of 6 January, but failed.
The former president went on to tell crowds assembled in Washington DC that Mr Pence had an opportunity to “do the right thing” by overturning the 2020 results.
Within an hour of his remarks, hundreds assaulted the Capitol and Mr Trump tweeted that Mr Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done”, despite his life being in danger.
Mr Woodward and Mr Costa’s book goes on to claim that Mr Trump’s advisers were afraid he would go “rogue”, and that a senior military official acted to block the former president from deploying nuclear weapons.
The Independent has approached Mr Trump’s office for comment.