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WASHINGTON (AP) — The House committee investigating the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, focused at a public hearing Thursday on the pressure that then-President Donald Trump put on his vice president, Mike Pence, to delay or reject the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. The committee tried to show how that pressure incited an angry mob to lay siege to the Capitol.
Watch Jacob’s remarks in the player above.
Pence, presiding over the certification in the vice president’s traditional ceremonial role, did not give in. He declared Biden the next president early the next morning, after the congressional session resumed and the rioters were cleared. Lawmakers on the nine-member panel, and the witnesses who testified at the hearing, all described Pence’s decision as having averted a constitutional crisis.
WATCH: Jan. 6 committee hearings – Day 3
Greg Jacob, a counsel to Pence who fended off pressure to carry out the plan, said in live testimony at the hearing that the vice president first summoned him to his West Wing office in early December 2020 to seek clarity about his role in the certification of election results.
But Jacob said that it became clear to the vice president that the founding fathers did not intend to empower any one person, including someone running for office, to affect the election results.
“And our review of text, history — and frankly, just common sense — all confirm the vice president’s first instinct on that point, there is no justifiable basis to conclude that the vice president has that kind of authority,” Jacob said.
But in the coming weeks, the committee laid out, Pence would come under pressure to invalidate Biden’s win and find a way to keep Trump in power. While many White House aides made clear that they didn’t agree with the scheme, a conservative law professor named John Eastman increasingly had the ear of Trump. He wrote multiple memos suggesting Pence could reject electors or simply declare Trump the winner.
During his testimony, Jacob also laid bare the high stakes of the dispute, saying that if the courts did not ultimately step in to resolve it, there would be nobody else available to settle it.
“You would be in a situation where you would have a standoff between the president of the United States and, counterfactually, the vice president of the United States.”
He added: “You would have had just an unprecedented constitutional jump ball situation with that standoff, and as I expressed to him, that issue might well then have to be decided in the streets, because if we can’t work it out politically, we’ve already seen how charged up people are about this election.”
The hearing was the third of several planned by the Jan. 6 committee that focused on Trump’s efforts to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to reject Congress’ official count of Electoral College votes on the day of the Capitol attack. In the year since its creation, the committee has conducted more than 1,000 interviews, seeking critical information and documents from people witness to, or involved in, the violence that day. The committee postponed a hearing scheduled for June 15 that was meant to focus on Trump’s efforts to replace Attorney General Bill Barr, who did not support his claims of voter fraud after the election.
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