ike Pence demanded praise. During last week’s GOP debate in Milwaukee, the former vice president forced his Republican opponents to thank him for allegedly saving the republic on January 6, 2021. “The American people deserve to know whether everyone on this stage agrees that I kept my oath to the Constitution that day,” Pence declared.
Unfortunately, the rest of the field complied. “Mike Pence stood for the Constitution and he deserves not grudging credit, he deserves our thanks as Americans,” former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie fawned. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) agreed that Pence “did the right thing.” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis admitted Pence “did his duty” and disclosed he has “no beef” with the former vice president.
In fact, the entire raison d’être for Pence’s candidacy is to give himself a national platform to brag about his self-proclaimed role in protecting the Constitution from Donald Trump’s plan to remain in power after the 2020 election. Pence, in Pence’s mind, is the hero to Trump’s villain.
But Pence appears to be rewriting the history of what he did on January 6. Contrary to his portrayal as one of the good guys on January 6, in reality, Pence is one of the bad guys.
He intentionally delayed release of a letter outlining why he did not have the authority to reject electors from contested states. Rather than publish the statement the day before or early on January 6, Pence made it public right before the joint session of Congress convened at 1:00 p.m. (He claimed Trump caused the delay since Pence wanted to wait until the president was done speaking at the Ellipse before sending the letter. Trump took the stage about an hour later than planned.)
By waiting until the last minute to make his case, Pence misled the president and Trump supporters who—justifiably or not—believed he could, or would, do something about an election that Pence himself admitted was not on the square.
According To Mike Pence, Mike Pence Is A Hero
In his autobiography, “So Help Me God,” Pence portrays himself as a prayerful defender of the Constitution, loyal to God and country over Donald Trump; the word “Constitution” appeared 155 times in his self-aggrandizing memoir. Pence, according to Pence, is truthful to a fault, always choosing his oath of office over political expediency.
Except his version of what happened on January 6 calls into question his honesty. Pence’s version does not match sworn testimony given by his top aides to the January 6 Select Committee last year. According to Pence, he woke up early that day, said a prayer, and went to work writing a statement to explain why he would not follow the advice of John Eastman, a legal advisor to Trump, and others who suggested Pence could delay the certification of Joe Biden’s election.
The subheading of the chapter documenting his actions on January 6 is Psalm 15:4: “Who keeps an oath even when it hurts.”
In that chapter, Pence offered a dramatic timeline of the morning of January 6 as he prepared his statement. “I labored over my words to make sure they conveyed my position clearly and my determination to fulfill my oath under the Constitution that day,” Pence wrote. “I addressed it to the members of the House and Senate, but my true audience was the American people.”
After finishing his statement, Pence said he prayed again. But then something odd happened, he revealed. “I started to close the document but thought that since there had been so many versions, maybe I should print it first just in case. So I hit ‘Print’ and then thought I saved the document on my desktop computer. But when I tried to open the draft, as I had feared, it had not been saved and all the changes I had made since the day before were completely gone.” Pence claimed his daughter quickly retyped the statement into his computer off the printed version.
According to Pence, Marc Short, his chief of staff, and Greg Jacob, his general counsel, arrived “late morning” to review the final draft, which he said had been emailed to them. Shortly thereafter, Trump called Pence at 11:00 a.m. and that’s when he lowered the boom on Trump. Once again boasting about his “forthright” character, Pence wrote how he told the president, “I do not believe I possess the power to decide which electoral votes to count.”
Conflicting Accounts Between Pence & His Advisors
But Short and Jacob told the select committee a much different story. The two aides, along with Chris Hodgson, Pence’s legislative director, headed to Pence’s residence around 8:30 a.m., a few hours earlier than Pence claimed in his book. And contrary to Pence’s portrayal as the sole author of the memo, Short and Jacobs described the statement as “a joint effort.”
Short told committee investigators, “we were finalizing a letter that the Vice President would release publicly later that day. So we were making final tweaks to that together.” He also said the four men reviewed the document on a “laptop,” not on Pence’s desktop computer.
Jacob confirmed Short’s description of the morning of January 6. “When we met up at the residence that morning, we were really just trying to get the statement finalized,” Jacobs told the committee.
Neither man mentioned the story about Pence failing to save the document or how his daughter needed to retype it for him.
Pence also omitted a somewhat consequential piece of the morning’s timeline: an earlier phone call from Trump. Jacob told the committee that a military aide interrupted their meeting around 9:15 a.m. to tell Pence the president was on hold. Pence excused himself to take the call, which according to Jacob, lasted between “15 & 20 minutes.”
Pence did not share details of the conversation with his aides. It’s also unclear whether Pence informed the president during the discussion that he was in the process of preparing a statement he would later release to Congress and the public.
Why The Inconsistencies?
So, why did Pence omit this from his book? After all, he recounted the conversation that took place at 11:00 a.m. Why not the first call?
And why did Pence mischaracterize, to put it kindly, how the final statement came together? There’s nothing unusual or inappropriate about staff helping to draft a letter. But why did Pence make it sound like he alone produced the document? And why did he give a false account of when his team arrived and their key involvement?
Pence also gave a different account of how he and his family traveled to the Capitol. In his book, Pence gave the impression he rode with his wife and daughter in the official motorcade. Seeing throngs of Trump supporters as he made his way to the building around noon, Pence said, “I turned to my daughter and said with a sigh, ‘God bless those people. They’re gonna be so disappointed.’”
But Short told the committee that he alone rode with Pence to the Capitol. Mrs. Pence and their daughter, Charlotte, were in “a separate vehicle.”
Again, why the inconsistencies? It’s one thing to fabricate, or overlook, inconsequential details when writing an autobiography. It’s quite another to misrepresent what happened on such an historic day, a day that serves as the entire basis of a run for president.
Pence’s preaching about his heroic role on January 6 deserves more than just fawning admiration from his Republican opponents. ✪