Key impeachment figure Pence sticks to sidelines

Key impeachment figure Pence sticks to sidelines
© Getty Images

Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceBennie Thompson not ruling out subpoenaing Trump Heritage Foundation names new president Fewer than 4 in 10 say US is on right track: poll MORE has emerged as a key figure in former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE's Senate impeachment trial, but those close to the former vice president say he has no intention of getting involved.

Pence's name has been invoked repeatedly during the proceedings this week. The then-vice president was escorted out of the Senate chamber on Jan. 6 as pro-Trump rioters stormed the complex, and the timeline of events has left unanswered questions about when the former president knew Pence was in danger and what, if anything, he did to intervene.

As the Senate mulls how to proceed, Pence has become something akin to what former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonWe've left Afghanistan — but its consequences are just starting to arrive It's time to pull the plug on our toxic relationship with Pakistan Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod MORE was in Trump's first impeachment trial — a potentially valuable witness who would fill in gaps but one who has remained on the sidelines.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I can't imagine him getting anywhere near this trial," one source close to the former vice president said.

The source also suggested it was unlikely Pence would incriminate Trump if he did come forward. The relationship between the two men soured in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection, but Pence was unflinchingly loyal for four years before that and still has aspirations of running for president in 2024.

A spokesperson for Pence did not respond to requests for comment about whether the former vice president or members of his team would be willing to testify if called.

The vice president has been featured in Democrats' case against Trump. House managers presented footage that showed how close Pence came to encountering rioters when he was first taken out of the Senate.

Rioters were heard chanting both "Traitor Pence" and "Hang Mike Pence" as the mayhem unfolded at the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to news reports and video footage played during the House managers' presentation.

It does not appear Trump's defense team or House impeachment managers are looking to call Pence into the chamber to testify, as both sides appear ready to conclude the trial as early as Saturday.

But pressure for Pence to share his accounting of the events on Jan. 6 has only grown in recent days.

"To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time," Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble The Memo: Never Trumpers sink into gloom as Gonzalez bows out Kinzinger says Trump 'winning' because many Republicans 'have remained silent' MORE (R-Wash.), one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, said in a statement late Friday.

Some Republican senators who appear open to voting to convict Trump for inciting violence have expressed particular interest in whether Trump knew Pence was in danger when he tweeted that Pence "didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution" by refusing to reject electors for President BidenJoe BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Fill the Eastern District of Virginia  Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE.

The tweet was the first Trump sent after protesters forced their way into the complex, and former government officials have voiced skepticism that Trump would not have been notified that Pence was being moved by the Secret Service.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema MORE (R-Utah), the lone Republican to vote to convict Trump during his first impeachment trial, asked during proceedings on Friday whether Trump knew Pence was in danger when he criticized his vice president via a tweet.

"The answer is no," Trump attorney Michael van der Veen said.

But that argument has been undercut by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), a staunch Trump supporter, who has been adamant that Trump called him as Pence was being taken out of the chamber and that he told the then-president what was happening before hanging up. 

Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyHillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — Americans blame politicians, social media for spread of misinformation: poll Biden signs bill to strengthen K-12 school cybersecurity Senators gear up for bipartisan grilling of Facebook execs MORE (R-La.), who voted that the trial was constitutional and should proceed, pointed to Tuberville's statement in a question of his own Friday.

“The tweet and lack of response suggests President Trump did not care that Vice President Pence was endangered or that law enforcement was overwhelmed,” Cassidy wrote in his question.

Pence has remained out of the spotlight since the mayhem of Jan. 6. He did not speak to Trump for days after the insurrection, but he rejected calls to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the then-president from office.

The former vice president has not given an interview since Jan. 6 or addressed his experience during the riots at length. He has announced he will join the Heritage Foundation and Young America's Foundation, two conservative groups where he will keep a foothold in Washington, D.C., as he mulls his political future.