Thursday night’s Jan. 6 select committee hearing presented the most damning evidence yet revealed about Donald Trump’s attempted violent coup, and his dereliction of duty when the nation’s Capitol and Congress were under attack. It also revealed how he infected those around him, namely the Secret Service.
Some of the most riveting moments of the hearing came from audio and video that showed just how close Vice President Mike Pence was to the protesters who had surrounded and entered the Capitol chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” We saw video footage of the Secret Service rushing Pence and his family away from the chamber and the public part of the Capitol at 2:26 PM ET on Jan. 6 in the middle of a renewed surge from the protestors on the doors of the building, and we saw a tweet from Trump sent just two minutes earlier, targeting Pence. “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done,” Trump tweeted.
The hearing focused on those long minutes for Pence’s Secret Service detail. They feared they were going to be trapped by the mob. “We need to move now,” an agent said, in an excerpt of a radio transmission. “If we lose any more time, we may lose the ability to do so.” Another described smoke filling a hallway ahead of them and protesters surging and outnumbering police, yelling to “Harden that door up.”
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A White House security official who was monitoring the Secret Service radio traffic testified anonymously to the committee, telling interviewers that the agents were “starting to fear for their own lives” as well as Pence’s. “There were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on and so forth,” the official said in his taped testimony. “For whatever the reason was on the ground, the VP detail thought that this was about to get very ugly.”
“It sounds like that we came very close to either, service having to use lethal options, or worse,” the official said. “At that point, I don’t know. Is the VP compromised? Is the detail? I don’t know. … If they’re screaming and saying things like, ‘say goodbye to the family,’ like the floor needs to know this is going to a whole ’nother level soon.”
Meanwhile, we’re not sure what Trump’s Secret Service detail was doing, other than telling White House staff about how irate Trump was about not being able to go to the Capitol after his rally speech. But they must have been doing something, and from the looks of things, whatever they were doing was not good. That whole purge of texts from the Secret Service from Jan. 6 and 7 is a clue.
So is the criminal probe opened up by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General over all those missing text messages. The communications were demanded by the Jan. 6 committee, looking for information on agents who were involved in planning Trump’s logistics on the day and who were with him throughout that day and the next.
Even more suspicious is the fact that those Trump agents have not just declined to work with the committee, they’ve lawyered up.
“Some of the officers said that they would be coming and talking under oath,” select committee member Zoe Lofgren, (D-CA) said Thursday night after the hearing. “They have not come in, and they recently retained private counsel, which is unusual, but they have a right to do that,” Lofgren said.
Unusual because federal employees are generally represented by the Department of Justice. It will be interesting to find out exactly who they’ve turned to—the Trump/Giuliani crew of clowns, or non-MAGA attorneys.
With this promise from committee co-chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), it might not matter.
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