Politics

It’s Fun That “the President Reportedly Agreed That a Mob Should Kill the Vice President” Is Only a Minor News Story

Pence, wearing a black suit and a white tie, stands at the dais in the House chamber against the backdrop of an American flag.
Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

On Jan. 6, 2021, after a pro-Trump mob overwhelmed police at the U.S. Capitol and broke into the building, Vice President Mike Pence was taken into hiding by the Secret Service. While this was happening, Donald Trump wrote a tweet attacking Pence (you may remember that Pence had upset Trump by upholding his responsibility to certify the results of the presidential election in a joint session of Congress):

Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!

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I had to copy and paste that text rather than embed the tweet, because it is no longer online. Twitter suspended and removed Trump—the president!—from its service after more or less concluding that he was using it to try to overthrow the government.

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This all looked pretty bad in the moment. It looks even worse now! One of the details that emerged from the Capitol that day is that some of the people in the mob said they were looking for Pence; a number of them took part in an unnervingly intense “HANG MIKE PENCE” chant. Trump has since defended this behavior, and Politico reported Wednesday that according to testimony given to the House’s Jan. 6 committee, he approved of the idea of killing Pence at the time, too:

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The White House chief of staff at the time, Mark Meadows, was in the dining room off the Oval Office with Trump at one point during last year’s Capitol attack, the committee has been told. Meadows then left the dining room and informed other people nearby that Trump had signaled a positive view of the prospect of hanging the vice president, the panel heard.

This is a tortured description of a thirdhand account, so it’s not clear exactly how much thought and specificity Trump put into his comments. We know from experience that he will kind of nod along and claim to be “strongly looking into” nearly anything that anyone suggests to him. It may not be prosecutorially actionable evidence of conspiracy to commit murder.

On the other hand, you have to admit: It’s messed up! And it’s also messed up that this revelation is so unsurprising that Politico’s story about it is not (currently) among the top five most-read on its website.

Messed-up stuff!

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