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Trump reportedly didn’t have a problem with ‘hang Mike Pence’ chants

New reporting suggests Donald Trump had a positive view of the prospect of hanging Mike Pence while the Jan. 6 attack was underway.


Among the many sights and sounds that linger after the Jan. 6 attack was a specific phrase chanted by some of the rioters: “Hang Mike Pence.” As outlandish as the question might seem, there’s fresh scrutiny this week into whether it was a phrase Donald Trump approved of.

The New York Times reported:

Shortly after hundreds of rioters at the Capitol started chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” on Jan. 6, 2021, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, left the dining room off the Oval Office, walked into his own office and told colleagues that President Donald J. Trump was complaining that the vice president was being whisked to safety. Mr. Meadows, according to an account provided to the House committee investigating Jan. 6, then told the colleagues that Mr. Trump had said something to the effect of, maybe Mr. Pence should be hanged.

Some necessary caveats are in order. Right off the bat, let’s note that this reporting hasn’t been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, though Politico and The Washington Post ran separate reports of their own with the same revelation.

Let’s also note that the evidence isn’t exactly direct: Trump said something to Meadows, who echoed the then-president’s sentiment to White House colleagues, one of whom shared the information with the Jan. 6 committee. It’s not as if we have a recording of precisely what Trump said.

But as notable as those caveats are, I’d recommend keeping a couple of things in mind.

First, the reporting is very easy to believe. Trump, during the insurrectionist violence, published an anti-Pence tweet, effectively accusing him of treachery, and by all accounts, Trump made no effort to reach out to his then-vice president after the riot to check on his wellbeing.

Months later, the former president sat down with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, who initially asked whether he was concerned at all about Pence’s safety during the assault on the Capitol. “No, I thought he was well-protected, and I had heard that he was in good shape,” Trump replied. “No. Because I had heard he was in very good shape. But, but, no, I think — "

A noose is seen on makeshift gallows as supporters of President Donald Trump gather on the West side of the Capitol
A noose is seen on makeshift gallows as supporters of then-President Donald Trump gather on the West side of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP - Getty Images

As we’ve discussed, the reporter intervened, reminding the Republican, “Because you heard those chants — that was terrible.” Trump was unmoved, saying, “He could have — well, the people were very angry.”

Karl added, “They were saying, ‘Hang Mike Pence.’” Trump responded, “Because it’s common sense, Jon.”

At that point in the interview, the former president returned to his ridiculous anti-election conspiracy theories.

In other words, the idea that Trump, during the attack, privately told his right-hand man that he had a positive view of the prospect of hanging Pence is consistent with the former president’s other rhetoric.

Second, this is important for reasons that go beyond completing the historical record. Violent insurrectionists attacked our seat of government. Some hunted the sitting vice president, who had to flee for his own safety. The sitting president apparently didn’t much care — and by some accounts, expressed some support about the hanging of his vice president — because Pence grudgingly concluded he couldn’t help Trump steal an election.

This is the stuff of nightmares in a free and stable democracy.

We know quite a bit about what transpired during this attack, but no one should assume all the important revelations have been exposed.