Dramatic testimony: Pence security detail feared for lives during riot
The Jan. 6 committee on Thursday released previously unheard radio chatter among Secret Service officers on Mike Pence’s security detail as they frantically weighed whether they could safely move the then-vice president to a secure location as rioters invaded the capitol.
The audio, played over footage of rioters entering the Capitol, shed new light on how concerned Secret Service was about the vice president’s safety, as well as their own.
“If we lose any more time, we may … lose the ability to leave. So, if we’re going to leave, we need to do it now,” one Secret Service agent said in a radio transmission.
As other agents relayed the location of rioters, one official asked if they would encounter rioters if they tried to move Pence to a secure location in the Capitol.
The White House National Security Council was listening to the radio conversations in real time and commenting in a chat log. One national security official wrote at 2:24 p.m.: “Service at the capitol does not sound good right now.”
The committee interviewed an anonymous White House security official, who told the panel that the message was reflective of how panicked Secret Service appeared to be at the time, and that some were fearing for their lives.
“There was a lot of yelling. A lot of very personal calls over the radio, so it was disturbing. I don’t like talking about it, but there were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on, so forth,” the anonymous official said in audio played Thursday.
“I think there were discussions of reinforcements coming, but again, it was just chaos, they were just yelling,” the official continued. “If they’re running out of options and they’re getting nervous — it sounds like we came very close to either Service having to use lethal options or worse.”
The committee juxtaposed the sheer panic expressed by many Secret Service agents on the ground with a tweet former President Trump sent at 2:24 p.m. — the same time security officials said Secret Service were radioing goodbye messages to their families — condemning Pence for failing to reject the election results.
“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,” Trump wrote.