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Donald Trump defends Jan. 6 rioters who chanted to 'hang' Mike Pence

In newly released audio, Trump is heard saying it should have been “common sense” for Pence to help him overturn the election.


Newly released audio of a reporter’s interview in March with former President Donald Trump brings into focus just how much resentment Trump felt over Mike Pence’s refusal to help him overturn the 2020 election.

The interview was conducted by ABC News’s Jonathan Karl for his forthcoming book, “Betrayal,” which examines Trump’s actions surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. During the exchange, Trump defended the Capitol rioters — some of whom called on Pence, then the vice president, to be hanged. The attackers were upset Pence didn’t go along with Team Trump’s crackpot attempts to decertify the election results.

“Were you ever worried about him during that siege? Were you worried about his safety?” Karl can be heard asking during a clip of the interview that was published Friday by Axios. 

Trump, never known to show worry for anyone but himself, predictably said no. 

“I thought he was well protected and I had heard that he was in good shape,” Trump said, adding that the rioters were "very, very angry" with Pence.

When Karl mentioned the chants for the vice president to be hanged, Trump deflected, saying it was “common sense” that Pence should have helped overturn the election because it was “fraudulent.” (It wasn’t — as numerous state election officials and so-called audits have repeatedly confirmed.)

Investigators in the House have said Trump, his former adviser Stephen Miller and his longtime confidant Rudy Giuliani all coordinated a strategy to pressure Pence out of certifying the Electoral College count back in January. Miller was among several Trump administration officials and associates who received subpoenas from the House Jan. 6 committee on Monday. John Eastman, the lawyer who allegedly advised Trump and hundreds of legislators on the cockamamie plan to overturn the election, received a subpoena as well

As the attack on the U.S. Capitol was underway, Eastman wrote an email to Pence’s chief counsel that perfectly encapsulated Trump’s fury over the vice president’s unwillingness to do his bidding. 

“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened,” Eastman wrote in the email.

Pence was a frequent stooge of Trump’s who enabled some of the former president’s lawless behavior. But like many other Trump associates, he’s learning that in Trump’s eyes, you’re only as good as your latest scam committed on his behalf. 

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