- A Reuters photographer said he heard at least three pro-Trump rioters at the Capitol on Wednesday saying they wanted to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging.
- The photographer, Jim Bourg, tweeted that he heard the rioters “say that they hoped to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor.”
- “It was a common line being repeated. Many more were just talking about how the VP should be executed,” he added.
- Trump has repeatedly and falsely claimed that Pence could have stopped Congress from finalising Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, even though Pence has no such legal or constitutional authority.
- When Pence released a statement saying he could not stop the process, the president publicly turned on him, tweeting that Pence didn’t have the “courage” to do what was necessary.
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A Reuters photographer said Friday that he overheard at least three pro-Trump insurrectionists at the US Capitol this week say they wanted to find Vice President Mike Pence and hang him.
“I heard at least 3 different rioters at the Capitol say that they hoped to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor,” the photographer, Jim Bourg, tweeted. “It was a common line being repeated. Many more were just talking about how the VP should be executed.”
The riot erupted Wednesday as Congress was counting electoral votes and debating Republican challenges to some battleground states’ votes for Joe Biden. The pro-Trump mob breached barriers at the Capitol, broke into the building, and ransacked lawmakers’ offices as police officers frantically evacuated Pence and senior lawmakers.
Other members of Congress, Hill staffers, and reporters hunkered down and sheltered in place, behind makeshift barricades, and in offices. An armed standoff ensued at the House chamber, and a Trump supporter was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer. The riot resulted in five deaths, including the woman who was shot and a Capitol Police officer who was beaten by the president’s supporters. Three other people died of medical emergencies.
At a rally before the joint session, President Donald Trump whipped his supporters into a frenzy, urging them “to fight,” march to the Capitol, and stop Congress from counting the votes and finalising Biden’s victory. In the days before the riot, Trump repeatedly and falsely claimed that the vice president had the power to reject or “decertify” electors from battleground states that Trump lost.
“States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning.
“If Vice President @Mike_Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency,” he added. “Many States want to decertify the mistake they made in certifying incorrect & even fraudulent numbers in a process NOT approved by their State Legislatures (which it must be). Mike can send it back!”
Pence has no such legal or constitutional authority; he released a statement acknowledging that minutes before Congress convened on Wednesday afternoon.
“Some believe that as Vice President, I should be able to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally. Others believe that electoral votes should never be challenged in a Joint Session of Congress,” he said. “After a careful study of our Constitution, our laws, and our history, I believe neither view is correct.”
Trump vented on Twitter, saying the vice president lacked the “courage” to do what was necessary. The insurrectionists who later laid siege to the Capitol could be heard shouting “where’s Mike Pence,” a source close to the vice president told CNN on Thursday.
The source added that the president didn’t bother checking on Pence’s or his family’s safety after unleashing the mob on the Capitol.
Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told the Tulsa World that Pence was furious with Trump in the wake of the riot.
“I’ve known Mike Pence forever,” Inhofe said. “I’ve never seen Pence as angry as he was today.”
Trump hasn’t seemed too concerned about tensions with the vice president. After Pence refused to block Congress’ certification of Biden’s victory, he reportedly told Pence, “I don’t want to be your friend.”