The House Select Committee on Jan. 6 continued its show trials Thursday in the panel’s third hearing on the Capitol riot probing everything but the riot.
Retired federal judge Michael Luttig and former White House counsel for Vice President Mike Pence, Greg Jacob, testified before the committee on the vice president’s role certifying the election results over President Donald Trump’s objections.
Luttig told the committee Pence’s compliance with Trump’s orders to halt certification of the 2020 contest “would have been the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the republic.”
“If I had been advising the vice president of the United States on Jan. 6,” Luttig said, “I would have laid my body across the road before I would have let the vice president overturn the 2020 election.”
The panel spent hours reviewing Trump’s efforts through theories espoused by attorney and law professor John Eastman to convince the vice president to thwart the electoral process on Jan. 6. Pence ultimately rebuked the president and continued with certification until the mob breached Capitol security interrupting the joint session of Congress. The vice president was taken to a secure location under the complex while rioters chanted “hang Mike Pence” above.
The Jan. 6 Committee characteristically dedicated little time to the Capitol security failures that put Pence’s safety in jeopardy, and instead blamed Trump for doing so through a pressure campaign to stop the count.
After about two hours, the House panel finally detailed Pence’s whereabouts at the Capitol as rioters overwhelmed police and entered the chambers.
California Democrat Rep. Pete Aguilar, who led Thursday’s questioning, asked Pence counsel Jacobs, who was with the vice president throughout the riot about the day’s events.
“Forty feet between the vice president and the mob,” Aguilar said after playing footage from the Capitol. “Mr. Jacob, you were there, seeing that for the first time, does it surprise you to see how close the mob was to the evacuation route that you took?”
“I could hear the din of the rioters in the building while we moved but I don’t think I was aware that they were as close as that,” Jacobs said, and was later asked to recount how his faith comforted him amid the riot.
The questioning was obviously designed to solicit emotion for a committee operating with the sole purpose of smearing political dissidents without any legitimate legislative value. If Aguilar and the rest of the panel were seriously concerned about Pence’s safety and the circumstances that led to the vice president being forced to shelter in a secure location, a more appropriate subject for questioning would have been former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving. If not Irving, then any other top official involved in maintaining Capitol security or Pence’s secret service detail, which must have coordinated with officials at the complex.
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s chief security officer in the lower chamber, Irving is at the center of the controversy surrounding the failures that led the mob into the Capitol. According to former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, Irving and Pelosi refused to deploy the National Guard to reinforce the Capitol security team six times. Irving said the National Guard presence would be bad “optics.”
Capitol Police, meanwhile, were ill-equipped and ill-trained to handle the horde of demonstrators who flooded the Capitol, according to a 128-page bipartisan Senate report, and were only half-staffed on Jan. 6. Irving, however, refused cooperation with lawmakers in the upper chamber.