How Mike Pence is central figure in Trump indictment after vice president took ‘contemporaneous notes’

How Mike Pence is central figure in Trump indictment after vice president took ‘contemporaneous notes’

Former Vice President Mike Pence’s testimony and handwritten notes describing private interactions with former president Donald Trump appear to have played a key role in securing charges against the twice-impeached, thrice-indicted ex-president for crimes allegedly committed while attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

The 45-page indictment against Mr Trump is at least partly based on contemporaneous notes taken by Mr Pence in the days between when he and Mr Trump lost the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on the Capitol that disrupted the final certification of their loss.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Trump tried to repeatedly pressure the then-vice president into cooperating with several illicit schemes to remain in office against the will of voters, and cite several incidents which are described as private conversations between the two men.

One such conversation took place on Christmas Day in 2020, when Mr Pence telephoned Mr Trump to deliver a holiday greeting.

Instead of reciprocating the greeting, the indictment alleges that the then-president “quickly turned the conversation” to his demand that Mr Pence reject certain state electoral votes during final certification on 6 January 2021. The then-vice president allegedly pushed back, telling Mr Trump: “You know I don’t think I have the authority to change the outcome”.

Mr Trump also allegedly called Mr Pence on New Year’s Day 2021, five days before the attack on the Capitol, to “berate” him about opposing a lawsuit that had been filed by the then-president’s allies with the aim of having a judicial opinion stating that Mr Pence had the authority Mr Trump was demanding of him.

After Mr Pence told Mr Trump once more that there was no basis for him to ever claim or wield that sort of authority, the then-president complained that his running-mate was “too honest”.

The former vice president, who like Mr Trump is vying for the 2024 Republican nomination in next year’s presidential election, launched his campaign by denouncing Mr Trump, who he said had “demanded I choose between him and our Constitution”.

“Now voters will be faced with the same choice,” he added.

But Mr Pence has hedged on whether Mr Trump should be charged for what he did, saying as recently as last month that he did not believe the ex-president should be Indicted for his efforts to overturn their 2020 defeat, and has claimed the prosecution of Mr Trump is politically motivated.

Still, following the unsealing of the indictment late Tuesday he hit out at the ex-president, calling him unfit to serve.

“Today’s indictment serves as an important reminder: Anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States,” he said in a statement. “Our country is more important than one man. Our Constitution is more important than any one man’s career”.

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