Former US President Donald Trump pressured his Vice President, Mike Pence, to overturn his 2020 election defeat despite being told repeatedly it was illegal to do so, aides to Pence told the congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol on Thursday.
According to Reuters, members of the Democratic-led House of Representatives select committee said Trump continued his pressure campaign even though he knew a violent mob of his supporters was threatening the Capitol as Pence and lawmakers met to formally certify President Joe Biden's victory in the November 2020 election.
Marc Short, who was Pence's chief of staff, said in videotaped testimony that Pence told Trump "many times" that he did not have the authority to stop the vote certification in Congress as the President sought.
Gregory Jacob, an attorney for Pence, said the main proponent of that theory, attorney John Eastman, admitted in front of the President two days before the attack that his plan to have Pence halt the procedure would violate the law.
Eastman had argued that Pence could reject results from certain states if he thought they were illegitimate, giving Republicans in those states an opportunity to declare Trump the victor despite the actual vote count.
Advisers to Pence told the committee that idea had no basis in law.
The also committee showed an email Eastman sent to Trump's attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, asking for a presidential pardon. Eastman never received one.
The hearing featured several clips of some of the thousands of Trump supporters who descended on the Capitol after a rally in which Trump repeatedly criticized Pence, chanting for Pence to be pulled out of the building or hanged.
Committee members said Trump's comments against Pence incited the crowd, according to Reuters.
The committee held its first public hearing last Thursday, with members laying out their case against Trump to show how he relentlessly pushed his false claims of a rigged election despite multiple advisers telling him otherwise and how he intensified an extraordinary scheme to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.
Last week’s hearing included a video deposition by Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who said she accepted then-Attorney General Bill Barr's statement that the Justice Department found no fraud sufficient to overturn the election.
The former President responded to his daughter’s comments on Friday and said, "Ivanka Trump was not involved in looking at, or studying, Election results. She had long since checked out and was, in my opinion, only trying to be respectful to Bill Barr and his position as Attorney General (he sucked!)."
Earlier this week, the committee held its second hearing, and played testimony from Barr in which he claimed Trump became increasingly “detached from reality” following the election.