WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Mike Pence’s refusal to single-handedly reject electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, as former President Donald Trump pressured him to do, will be the subject of the Thursday House hearing investigating the Capitol attack.
What to expect out of today’s hearing:Trump millions raised to fight election fraud before Jan. 6. Here’s how that money was spent.
Trump raised money for ‘election defense’ and gave millions to his allies
A fundraising committee affiliated with former President Donald Trump raised millions of dollars for an “Official Election Defense Fund,” but the Jan. 6 committee said in its hearing Monday that it found no evidence that fund existed.
Most of the money went to a leadership fund called Save America that gave millions to Trump allies. For example, nonprofits affiliated with advisor Kellyanne Conway and chief of staff Mark Meadows received $1 million each. Campaigns for candidates running to unseat Trump foes in Congress received $5,000 each.
E. Danya Perry, who served as an assistant US Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 2002 to 2013, said the case has the building blocks of a “pretty clear cut” case of wire fraud, a subject that is “bread and butter for federal prosecutors.”
– Erin Mansfield
Where did Trump’s ‘Election Defense Fund’ money go?:Trump millions raised to fight election fraud before Jan. 6. Here’s how that money was spent.
‘1776 Returns’ detailed plans to occupy buildings near Capitol
A document allegedly given to Proud Boys Chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio prior to the Jan. 6 insurrection lays out detailed plans to occupy more than half a dozen buildings surrounding the US Capitol and describes tactics to be used by occupiers as they “Storm the Winter Palace.”
The full document titled “1776 Returns,” attached as an exhibit in a court filing Wednesday by Tarrio’s co-defendant Zachary Rehl, was described by one former federal prosecutor as “an absolutely devastating piece of evidence.”
Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago who has practiced criminal law for 40 years, said the “1776 Returns” document is a bombshell for prosecutors, assuming it can be verified. “The authors are clearly planning multiple, multiple felony; they’re saying how they’re going to do it, and it’s all in service, apparently, to a broader crime, which is the sedition.” he said.
– Will Carless
Pence in Cincinnati, Ohio, as Jan. 6 hearing focuses on him
On the same day, the House Jan. 6 committee is expected to examine how former President Donald Trump pressured Pence to overturn the 2020 election.
The roundtable won’t be open to the public. It will be hosted by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program. Pence will also be in town to raise money for Rep. Steve Chabot’s reelection campaign at the home of Nancy and David Aichholz, according to an invitation sent out by the GOP.
– Scott Wartman, Cincinnati Enquirer
Pence in Ohio: Mike Pence in Cincinnati today as Jan. 6 committee looks at how Trump pressured him
What time is the Jan. 6 hearing on Thursday?
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 pm ET.
How to watch the Jan. 6 hearing
USA TODAY will livestream the hearings here on USATODAY.com. The hearings have also been televised on C-Span and cable news networks.
Trump lawyer: Pence was calm when told about lack of election fraud
Alex Cannon, a Trump campaign lawyer, described a stoic Vice President Mike Pence compared to other Trump aids in response to the lack of election fraud.
Cannon found no evidence of enough voter fraud to change the election. At one point during a November 2020 meeting at the White House, Pence asked Cannon for an update.
“I don’t remember his exact words, but he asked me if we were finding anything, and I said that I was not personally finding anything sufficient to alter the results of the election,” Cannon said. “He thanked me. That was our interaction.”
Who has the Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed?:Who has been subpoenaed so far by the Jan. 6 committee?
In a promotional tweet Tuesday for the hearingthe committee released video of Eric Hershmann, one of Trump’s lawyers, who described warning Eastman the day after the riot he should find a “great” defense lawyer.
Eastman had contacted Hershmann to chat about Georgia election results because he couldn’t reach other Trump aids. Hershmann questioned Eastman’s sanity and told him the only phrase he wanted to hear from Eastman from then on was “orderly transition” to the Biden administration.
“Eventually he said, ‘Orderly transition,'” Hershmann said. “I said, ‘Good, John. Now I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever getting in your life. Get a great f-ing criminal defense lawyer. You’re going to need it.’ Then I hung up on him.”
How Trump’s PAC spent money:Trump millions raised to fight election fraud before Jan. 6. Here’s how that money was spent.
Who is testifying? Former Pence counsel Greg Jacob
Greg Jacob, Pence’s counsel who researched the vice president’s power to reject voters when Congress counts presidential votes, told Eastman in an email Jan. 6, 2021, at 2:14 pm that his advice from him was “essentially entirely made up,” according to court records.
In an Oval Office meeting with Trump on Jan. 4, Pence stressed his “immediate instinct that there is no way that one person could be entrusted by the Framers to exercise that authority,” according to Jacob.
As the mob ransacked the Capitol two days later and Pence evacuated the Senate chamber, Jacob emailed Eastman to say “thanks to your bull—-, we are now under siege,” according to court records.
Bill Barr and Donald Trump:Bill Barr’s complicated relationship with Donald Trump: From vital advocate to damning witness
Who is Michael Luttig? Retired judge to testify
Eastman clerked for Michael Luttig, a retired judge for the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals who was rumored as a potential Supreme Court nominee during President George W. Bush’s administration.
The same day Trump pressured Pence and Jacob in the Oval Office, Pence’s personal lawyer, Richard Cullen, called Luttig to ask about Eastman. Luttig tweeted his disagreement with Eastman’s argument the morning of Jan. 5.
“The only responsibility and power of the Vice President under the Constitution is to faithfully count the electoral college votes as they have been cast,” Luttig said. “The Constitution does not empower the Vice President to alter in any way the votes that have been cast, either by rejecting certain of them or otherwise.”
Jan. 6 committee hearing schedule:Here’s what to expect at upcoming Jan. 6 hearings
Pence’s former chief of staff Marc Short says he sided with Constitution over Trump
Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, told the vice president committee was proud of what was accomplished during the four years of the Trump administration, but sided with the Constitution in the election showdown.
“I think he was proud to have stood beside the president for all that has been done,” Short said in a videotaped deposition. “But I think he ultimately knew that his fidelity to the Constitution was his first and foremost oath.”