Sixteen months after Donald Trump left office, there are some people who take issue with the fact that the media still reports on the ex-president, claiming he shouldn‘t be given airtime. The problem with such an argument is that the plague on society known as Donald J. Trump isn’t going anywhere, and he not only retains a significant amount of power within the Republican Party—which he is systematically attempting to purge of anyone he perceives as being disloyal to him—but he is currently threatening to run for a second term. Which is why it’s probably worth warning people that, in addition to the million other reasons he should not be allowed within 1,000 feet of the White House, Trump apparently also endorsed an attempt by violent rioters to kill his vice president, Mike Pence.
The New York Times reports that the January 6 committee has been informed that shortly after Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” the then president complained that the V.P. had been taken to a secure location for his own safety and, per the Times, “said something to the effect of, maybe Mr. Pence should be hanged.” The paper, giving Trump the benefit of the doubt where he in no way deserves it, notes that “it is not clear what tone Mr. Trump was said to have used,” though we’d point out that even joking about Pence deserving to be hanged would be an insane thing for the leader of the free world to do, particularly in light of the fact that the insurrection actually left five people dead. According to the Times, “the account of Mr. Trump’s comment was initially provided to the House committee by at least one witness,” and then confirmed by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who was reportedly present in his office when he recounted Trump’s remarks.
A lawyer for Meadows told the Times he has “every reason to believe” that the account relayed to the January 6 panel “is untrue.” Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Trump, said, “This partisan committee’s vague ‘leaks,’ anonymous testimony and willingness to alter evidence proves it’s just an extension of the Democrat smear campaign that has been exposed time and time again for being fabricated and dishonest. Americans are tired of the Democrat lies and the charades, but, sadly, it’s the only thing they have to offer.”
Of course, that pushback would be a lot more believable if not for the fact that (1) Trump had an extensive history of advocating violence against his perceived enemies even before January 6 and (2) Trump himself suggested in an interview last November that Pence deserved the chants calling for him to be hanged.
There’s also the fact that, during the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, Trump put a giant target on Pence’s back, telling the crowd, “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so,” and “All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people,” and “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a, a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution,” and “Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you. I will tell you right now. I’m not hearing good stories.”
Later, more than an hour after police reported that the barricades outside the Capitol had been breached, Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” During the riot, Trump called lawmakers not to make sure everyone was okay, but to continue to insist that the results should be overturned. According to former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, Trump “gleefully” watched the violence unfold on TV and remarked, “Look at all the people fighting for me.” That recollection tracks with that of Senator Ben Sasse, who said in an interview on January 8, 2021, that senior White House officials had told him that as the insurrection unfolded, “Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was, as you had rioters pushing against Capitol police trying to get into the building. That was happening. He was delighted.”
So yeah, it’s more than a little believable that Trump would tell aides that Pence had it coming.
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