Trump knew his plan to prevent the election of Biden was illegal, according to the commission of the assault on the Capitol

“Let’s hang Mike Pence.” That was one of the war cries of those who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The Vice President of the United States was preparing to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory over Donald Trump and the latter’s supporters did not forgive him. The commission that investigates that attack on democracy has focused this Thursday on demonstrating Trump’s insistent pressure so that his vice president broke the law and prevented the transfer of powers.

With a careful script, which mixes the statements of the members of the commission, the witnesses and audiovisual material, the commission has shown that Trump knew that his attempt to have Pence reject the vote to proclaim Biden president was “illegal and unconstitutional”, according to commission members. Still, Trump pressured his vice president “relentlessly.” “Our democracy has come perilously close to catastrophe,” said Commission Chairman Bennie Thompson.

The commission has shown how Trump harangued the masses before they headed to storm the Capitol and asked Pence to listen to him: “Mike Pence is going to have to cut his losses and if he does not, it will be a sad day for our country. And Mike Pence, I hope you stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. And if you don’t, I’m going to be very disappointed in you. I’m telling you right now.” Trump asked him to return electoral vote certifications to some states. “If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election, we become president and you are happy,” Trump told his supporters.

The commission considers that the pressure on Pence to break the electoral result contributed to the violence that broke out that day. “We already know what happened next. Trump’s words had an effect,” said California Democratic Representative Pete Aguilar. With a format that at times is almost a documentary, he has reproduced videos of the rioters on their way to the Capitol. “I guess the hope is that there is such a show of force here that Pence decides to do the right thing, according to Trump,” one of them said. The congressmen have returned to see the images of the assault. Four Trump supporters and five police officers died between that day and the following ones.

“President Trump was repeatedly told that Mike Pence lacked the constitutional and legal authority to do what he was requiring him to do,” Liz Cheney, congresswoman from Wyoming and vice president of the commission, who has become the commission, has summarized the testimonies. staunchest opponent of Trump within the Republican ranks, even at the cost of reprisals from his own party.

Trump continued to pressure Pence even as he already knew a violent riot was taking place on Capitol Hill, according to evidence released Thursday. In the first session, Liz Cheney already recounted testimonies that when the threats to hang Pence reached the then president’s ears, Trump said: “Maybe our supporters are right.” Mike Pence “deserves it,” they claim he said. The former president denies it, although in a recent interview he showed his sympathy for those who uttered those cries.

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The commission plans to analyze in one of the three remaining sessions how January 6 was lived in the White House. This Thursday has focused on the role of Pence. “Vice President Pence understood that his oath of office was more important than his loyalty to Donald Trump. He did his duty. Clearly, President Trump did not do it”, summarized Cheney, daughter of Dick Cheney, powerful vice president of the United States with George W. Bush.

Pence himself has referred this year in an act to Trump telling him that he could annul the election: “President Trump is wrong. He had no right to annul the elections. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone. And frankly, there is no idea more anti-American than the notion that a single person can elect the president of the United States.”

In the previous session, evidence had been shown that Trump was told that the hoax that the elections had been stolen made no sense. In this, for more than two and a half hours, it has been shown how different positions and experts warned Trump that Pence did not have the power to skip the certification of Biden’s victory, considering Trump the winner or returning votes to the States. John Eastman, Trump’s lawyer, tried to support that thesis. A judge already pointed out three months ago that he sees it as likely that Trump and Eastman committed a crime by conspiring to prevent the certification of votes in Congress. Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, personal lawyer of the former president, also participated in this maneuver to alter the result.

One of the experts who has testified has been retired Judge J. Michael Luttig, a highly regarded jurist in the conservative ranks, who has said that if Pence had flouted the law and ignored the election result, “he would have plunged the United States into in what would have been equivalent to a revolution with a constitutional crisis”, something unprecedented in the history of the United States.

The other witness who has appeared in the Chamber has been Greg Jacob, who was Pence’s legal adviser. He has explained that he also tried to explain to Eastman that the vice president did not have the power to reject the election results. He gave as an example the elections that George W. Bush won by a minimal and controversial margin of votes in Florida against Al Gore, then vice president.

According to Jacob, Eastman initially recognized that the vice president had no power to alter the election result. Pence’s legal adviser even told Trump’s that if he tried to assume those powers over the election result, the case would go to the Supreme Court and he would lose 9-0, that is, the justices would reject it unanimously. By his account, Eastman first said he believed he would only lose 7-2 and then conceded that yes, 9-0 was more likely. The important thing is that it shows that he knew that what he was asking for was illegal.

When Eastman testified before members of the commission, he invoked the fifth amendment 146 times, the right not to testify against himself, not to answer. The commission showed an email asking Jacobs to look into a “relatively minor violation of federal law.” Eastman also sent a message to Rudy Giuiliani asking him to put him on the list of presidential pardons that Trump approved of before leaving office, in this case preemptively.

Despite knowing that what they were asking for was illegal, both he and Trump kept insisting. “The president clung to a dangerous theory and did not let go because he was convinced that he would keep him in office,” said Pete Aguilar.

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