In the Oval Office final week, the day earlier than the vote, Mr. Trump pushed Mr. Pence in a string of encounters, together with one assembly that lasted at the least an hour. John Eastman, a conservative constitutional scholar at Chapman University, was within the workplace and argued to Mr. Pence that he did have the facility to behave.
The subsequent morning, hours earlier than the vote, Richard Cullen, Mr. Pence’s private lawyer, known as J. Michael Luttig, a former appeals courtroom decide revered by conservatives — and for whom Mr. Eastman had as soon as clerked. Mr. Luttig agreed to shortly write up his opinion that the vice chairman had no energy to alter the result, then posted it on Twitter.
Within minutes, Mr. Pence’s workers integrated Mr. Luttig’s reasoning, citing him by identify, right into a letter asserting the vice chairman’s determination to not attempt to block electors. Reached on Tuesday, Mr. Luttig mentioned it was “the highest honor of my life” to play a task in preserving the Constitution.
After the indignant name cursing Mr. Pence, Mr. Trump riled up supporters on the rally in opposition to his personal vice chairman, saying, “I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he’s listening to.”
“He set Mike Pence up that day by putting it on his shoulders,” mentioned Ryan Streeter, an adviser to Mr. Pence when he was the governor of Indiana. “That’s a pretty unprecedented thing in American politics. For a president to throw his own vice president under the bus like that and to encourage his supporters to take him on is something just unconscionable in my mind.”
Mr. Pence was already in his motorcade to the Capitol by that time. When the mob burst into the constructing, Secret Service brokers evacuated him and his spouse and youngsters, first to his workplace off the ground and later to the basement. His brokers urged him to go away the constructing, however he refused to desert the Capitol. From there, he spoke with congressional leaders, the protection secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — however not the president.
A Republican senator later mentioned he had by no means seen Mr. Pence so indignant, feeling betrayed by a president for whom he had performed a lot. To Mr. Trump, one adviser mentioned, the vice chairman had entered “Sessions territory,” referring to Jeff Sessions, the lawyer basic who was tortured by the president earlier than being fired. (A vice chairman can’t be dismissed by a president.)