Former Vice President Mike Pence rebuffed Secret Service pressure to be driven away from the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection because he feared he would not be able to continue presiding over the certification by Congress of the electoral votes for president, according to a new book.
Secret Service agents feared for Pence’s life at the U.S. Capitol that day while insurrectionists were calling for the then-vice president to be “hanged” for refusing Donald Trump’s demand to reject American voters’ choice for president.
Pence was initially moved to his ceremonial office, but Tim Giebels, in charge of Pence’s security detail, was still concerned about his safety and asked Pence — twice — to “evacuate the Capitol,” according to the book “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,” by Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig.
Pence refused. “I’m not leaving the Capitol,” he told Giebels, worried that speeding away from the building would “vindicate the insurrection,” according to the book, which is coming out Tuesday.
Finally, he was escorted to a subterranean location, where Pence’s armored limousine awaited, and was told to get in the car.
“I’m not getting in the car, Tim,” Pence replied, according to Rucker and Leonnig. “If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off. I’m not getting in the car.”
Tony Ornato, who oversaw Secret Service movements, reportedly told White House senior official Keith Kellogg in the West Wing that agents were planning to move Pence to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
“You can’t do that, Tony,” Kellogg said, according to the book. “Leave him where he’s at. He’s got a job to do. I know you guys too well. You’ll fly him to Alaska if you have a chance. Don’t do it.”
He’s “going to stay there,” Kellogg added, according to the book. “If he has to wait there all night, he’s going to do it.” (Ornato denied that the conversation took place.)
Trump, meanwhile, reportedly asked an aide in the White House: “Is Mike okay?” Trump was also at the time praising the insurrectionists in a tweet and blasting Pence for not having the “courage” to overturn the election.
When he was told Secret Service agents were with the vice president, Trump reportedly responded, “Oh?” — and continued to watch events unfold on television.
At 4 that afternoon, Pence called Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, the book reported.
“Get troops here; get them here now,” Pence ordered, according to the authors. “We’ve got to get the Congress to do its business.”
That night, after the Capitol was cleared of insurrectionists, Pence called the Senate back into session.
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win,” he said. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins, and this is still the people’s house.”