WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The Jan. 6 committee convened Thursday night for what may be their final meeting in a series of hearings about the Capitol riots. The focus of the hearing was what former President Donald Trump was doing during the insurrection.
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Virginia) spoke about former President Donald Trump’s tweet calling former Vice President Mike Pence a “coward” for presiding over the congressional certification of Biden’s victory.
“He put a target on his own vice president’s back,” Luria said.
As rioters entered the Capitol, Luria said the Secret Service held Pence in his office near the Senate chamber for nearly 13 minutes while trying to find a safe path to a secure location.
The committee says rioters were just feet away from where Pence was being held. They played Secret Service radio traffic, some frantically saying if, “We’re going to leave, we need to do it now.”
Radio traffic recordings showed that the vice president’s detail were closely assessing how to get Pence out of the Capitol and to safety.
“We have a clear shot if we move quickly,” one agent said.
“We’re coming out now,” said a voice on another recording.
The president’s National Security Council staff was listening to the radio traffic and tracking the developments in real time, Luria reports.
According to chat logs presented at the hearing, the National Security Council staff learned the “Capitol is breached” at 2:13 p.m. Three minutes later, “VP being pulled,” which meant Pence was evacuated from the Senate floor. At 2:18, “decision in the next 2-3 mins or they may not be able to move. VP may be stuck at the Capitol.” The staff reportedly noted that Secret Service agents at the Capitol did not “sound good right now.”
“Although President Trump was aware of the ongoing riot, he did not take any immediate action to address the lawlessness,” Luria said.
A security professional who had been working in the White House on Jan. 6 with a responsibility to report to national security officials spoke anonymously to the committee.
The individual says the comments that (Secret) Service did not “sound good right now” meant that members of Pence’s detail were “starting to fear for their own lives.”
The security official described the radio traffic as “disturbing” and said there were personal calls made to “say goodbye to family members.”
“The VP detail thought this was about to get very ugly,” the official said.
The Jan. 6 committee cannot bring charges against former President Donald Trump, but they appear to be trying to meet the standard that he is criminally responsible for the insurrection.