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Pence's former top aide cooperating with the Jan. 6 investigation

Mike Pence's former chief of staff has insights to share, not only into what happened on Jan. 6, but also into the machinations that preceded the attack.


There's been quite a bit of focus in recent weeks on the members of Donald Trump's team who've refused to cooperate with the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 attack. The interest is, to be sure, well justified: As key figures defy subpoenas, it's important to understand what they're trying to hide and why.

But let's also not overlook those who are helping advance the investigation. NBC News reported:

Marc Short, who was chief of staff to then-Vice President Mike Pence, is cooperating with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to two people familiar with the panel's activities. "He is," one of the sources said. "So far."

CNN had a related report, adding, "Short remains one of Pence's closest advisers and is a firsthand witness to many critical events the committee is examining, including what happened to Pence at the Capitol on January 6 and how former President Donald Trump pressured the former vice president not to certify the presidential election that day."

But let's not forget that Short also has insights to offer as to events that unfolded behind the scenes.

According to recent reporting from ABC News' Jonathan Karl, it was last December when Jenna Ellis, one of the Trump campaign's lawyers, drafted a memo that outlined a multi-step strategy to overturn the then-president's defeat. Under Ellis' plan, when Congress was supposed to certify the election results on Jan. 6, Pence could instead unilaterally decide to send back the electoral votes from several states where Trump lost, but he wishes he'd won.

Under the plan, the then-vice president would at that point give the relevant states a deadline of Jan. 15, at which point they'd send back new votes that Republicans liked better. States that missed the deadline would be excluded from the overall count.

And if enough states missed the deadline, no candidate would be able to receive a majority of electoral college votes, which in turn would empower congressional Republicans to keep Trump in office, despite his defeat.

As we recently discussed, this strategy was utterly bonkers. Nevertheless, on New Year's Eve, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was interested enough in the gambit that he sent a copy of Ellis' scheme to Pence's office — or more specifically, to Marc Short. ABC News' report added:

The day after Meadows sent Ellis' memo to Pence's aide, on Jan. 1, Trump aide John McEntee sent another memo to Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, titled, "Jefferson used his position as VP to win." Although McEntee's memo was historically incorrect, Karl says, his message was clear: Jefferson took advantage of his position, and Pence must do the same.

In other words, as the bipartisan select committee hears directly from Short, he can help answer questions not only about what transpired during the attack on the Capitol, but also about the machinations that preceded the assault. Watch this space.