Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) has been a consistent, public voice of authority on the Jan. 6 panel’s work since the committee first began its investigation into the insurrection and broader efforts by Trump and his allies to subvert the 2020 election.
But lately he’s given a series of blunt remarks, honing in on the events surrounding former Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to not get into an armored vehicle as Secret Service attempted to evacuate him from the U.S. Capitol. Raskin is interested in why the vice president so strenuously objected.
We’ve known for some time that Pence was asked repeatedly to get into a protected vehicle to evacuate the Capitol building on Jan. 6, with his security detail more aggressively pressing the Veep to flee after the mob of protesters breached the building with their ire directed at Pence. The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig revealed the details of the scene last summer when the Post published excerpts of their then-new book, “I Alone Can Fix It.”
Despite the Secret Service’s urging, Pence told his top security detail after being taken to a parking garage below the Capitol building, “I’m not getting in the car.”
This is the full quote: “I’m not getting in the car, Tim,” Pence said, addressing Tim Giebels, the lead agent in charge of his protective detail. “I trust you, Tim, but you’re not driving the car. If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off. I’m not getting in the car.”
Shortly after details of the Rucker and Leonnig book came out, one of Pence’s top aides Marc Short publicly claimed that Pence was concerned about the U.S.’s global image, knowing how it might look to U.S. adversaries to see the vice president’s “15-car motorcade fleeing the Capitol” during a moment of violent upheaval.
There was also some speculation after the Rucker and Leonnig details came out that Pence refused to leave because he knew he’d be whisked away to safety and therefore incapable of completing his constitutional duty of certifying the 2020 Electoral College results. The Rucker and Leonnig excerpts also revealed the Veep’s security detail might’ve had some suspicions about the intentions of at least one senior Secret Service official who also served as a top aide to Trump, Tony Ornato. Ornato was reportedly part of West Wing efforts to move Pence to Joint Base Andrews at one point during the attack, as the Post reporters mentioned in their book, though Ornato has denied those reported conversations.
And in recent days it’s been revealed that Ornato actually told White House chief of staff Mark Meadows before the attack that there was potential for violence on Jan. 6.
But all of that to say this: Raskin in recent days has been specifically tying Pence’s decision to not get into the car on Jan. 6 to some “inside coup” efforts. During a speech at Georgetown University and an interview on MSNBC, Raskin made a few leaps that other committee members haven’t quite taken yet publicly. And while Raskin does tend to be more candid than most in his Jan. 6-related remarks, he is also intimately involved in the panel’s work.
“Those are six of the most chilling words in American history to me because they were trying to remove him from the situation and of course there had been this effort to try to get Trump just to invoke Martial Law under the Insurrection Act,” Raskin said during an interview on MSNBC on Monday night — the six words referring to when Pence told his top security agent he wasn’t going to get in the car. “This was a marriage between an inside political coup at the highest levels of the administration, with street thugs and hooligans and neo-fascists.”
“He knew exactly what this inside coup they had planned for was going to do,” Raskin said at Georgetown last week, after again raising the six “chilling words.” He added: “It was a coup directed by the president against the vice president and against the Congress.”
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