Former Vice President Mike Pence provided alarming insights to special counsel Jack Smith’s team earlier this year. Pence disclosed that following the 2020 presidential election, then-President Donald Trump surrounded himself with questionable attorneys, promoted “un-American” legal theories, and nearly led the nation into a “constitutional crisis.” These revelations, shared by sources familiar with Pence’s statements to investigators, shed light on the tumultuous aftermath of the election.
According to sources, Pence informed investigators that he made it clear to Trump that he had not seen any significant evidence of election fraud prior to January 6, 2021. Despite this, Trump remained unmoved and continued to assert that the election had been “stolen,” behaving recklessly on that fateful day. Pence expressed his certainty regarding this matter.
According to exclusive information obtained by ABC News, Vice President Pence, the highest-ranking current or former government official, has reportedly spoken with the special counsel team investigating the attempts to overturn the 2020 election. His alleged statements provide additional insights into the evidence gathered by Smith’s team, which is prosecuting Trump for his alleged efforts to unlawfully maintain power and undermine public trust in democratic institutions.
If Smith’s election interference case goes to trial in March, there is a possibility that Pence could testify against Trump on the stand.
In an interview with ABC News, the former vice president shared similar information with Smith’s investigators. He reiterated many of the comments he had previously made publicly. The investigators specifically focused on a book that Pence had published the previous year. Their aim was to have Pence confirm various post-election stories and opinions that he had included in the book, under oath.
During private discussions with Smith’s team, Pence shared undisclosed anecdotes and additional information about the deterioration of his long-standing friendship with Trump in the last weeks of their tenure at the White House. Pence reiterated his multiple warnings to Trump regarding his efforts to overturn the election results.
During the interviews with Pence, the investigators of Smith’s team reportedly questioned the former vice president about the personal notes he had taken during his meetings with Trump and other individuals. These notes were obtained by the investigators from the National Archives.
According to sources, Pence’s team obtained one of his notes that revealed his momentary decision to skip the proceedings of certifying the election results on Jan. 6, 2021. In the note, Pence expressed concerns about the numerous questions surrounding the event and how it could potentially be hurtful to his friend. Nevertheless, after careful consideration, Pence ultimately concluded that it was his duty to attend.
During his conversation with Smith’s team, Pence made it clear that his loyalty to President Trump remained unwavering at the time. Sources described Pence as saying, “My only higher loyalty was to God and the Constitution.”
During the investigation, sources revealed that the investigators went into great detail and even questioned Pence about minor details, such as the placement of a comma in his book. In his book, Pence recounted a phone call with Trump on Christmas Day 2020 where he told Trump, “You know, I don’t think I have the authority to change the outcome” of the election on Jan. 6.
According to sources, Pence allegedly informed Smith’s investigators that the placement of the comma in that particular sentence was incorrect. In his book, Pence intended to convey that he had admonished Trump by saying, “You know I don’t think I have the authority to change the outcome.” This suggests that Trump was well aware of the limitations of Pence’s authority in the days leading up to January 6th, a statement which Smith includes in his indictment.
According to a report by ABC News in April, it was revealed that Pence had recently provided testimony before a federal grand jury in Washington. Following this, in June, Pence made a bid to challenge Trump as the Republican Party’s next presidential candidate. However, Pence’s campaign was relatively short-lived, lasting only four months.
‘Accept the results’
According to sources, Pence admitted to Smith’s team that he had prior knowledge that the Trump-Pence ticket was projected to initially lead in the polls before Election Day on Nov. 3, 2020. However, he was aware that this lead would diminish over time as more mail-in ballots were counted.
According to sources, Pence informed Smith’s team that he did not witness any substantial allegations of fraud in the initial days following the election. However, despite this, Trump swiftly proclaimed victory and alleged “a major fraud in our nation” shortly after the polls closed. Pence reportedly told investigators that he believed Trump’s statements were of a general nature and not specifically referring to instances of fraud.
Trump privately instructed Pence to investigate any potential fraud or “irregularities” in the election. He conveyed his determination to fight their campaign in court and other arenas, as Pence allegedly informed Smith’s team.
According to sources, Pence expressed his apprehension when Trump started disregarding the guidance of reputable and experienced attorneys within the White House shortly after the election. Instead, he began relying on external lawyers like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who promoted the idea of widespread election fraud. As Pence reportedly conveyed to Smith’s team, he believed that these actions were detrimental to both the president and the nation.
According to sources, Vice President Pence informed Smith’s investigators that there is certainty in the fact that President Trump was aware of his opinions about those attorneys. However, despite this knowledge, President Trump still took the time to listen to their input.
During his interviews with Smith’s team, Pence recounted a private meeting he had with Trump in the Oval Office on December 21, 2020. At that time, the campaign’s legal challenges were faltering, but Trump persisted in alleging election theft and started encouraging his supporters to assemble in Washington, D.C., for a “big protest” on January 6, 2021.
According to reports, during a private conversation, Trump sought advice from Pence on the course of action they should take. In response, Pence advised the former president to accept the results if nothing changed. He suggested that Trump should acknowledge the outcome, show gratitude to his supporters by traveling across the country, and consider running again in the future if he desired to do so.
Pence recalled the unforgettable moment when the man pointed directly at him, seemingly implying, “That’s worth thinking about,” before walking away.
According to Smith’s election interference-related indictment against Trump, two days later, Trump shared a tweet titled ‘Operation PENCE CARD.’ The tweet falsely claimed that the Vice President had the power to disqualify legitimate electors from six specific states.
While en route to Colorado for his Christmas vacation, Pence noticed Trump’s post and exclaimed to his wife, “Here we go,” as he recounted to Smith’s investigators, according to sources.
‘No idea more un-American’
According to sources, Pence explained to investigators that by late December 2020, he was aware that the Trump campaign had exhausted all legal avenues to stay in power. However, he still encouraged lawmakers to bring forth potentially credible claims of fraud during the Jan. 6, 2021 proceedings. As the presiding officer over Congress, Pence was responsible for certifying the election results and determining whether any votes should be rejected.
During a meeting at the White House in late December 2020, approximately 20 House Republicans burst into applause when Pence encouraged them to gather their evidence and reassured them that they would have their chance to present it before the election could be certified. According to sources, Pence conveyed this message to Smith’s team, emphasizing the importance of allowing all the evidence to be heard in Congress.
According to sources, Pence informed investigators that he remained open to the possibility of voter fraud in the election. He emphasized his commitment to adhering to the facts and the law throughout the process.
During the Jan. 6 proceedings, Trump privately urged Pence to reject specific votes and prevent the certification of the election. Pence allegedly disclosed to Smith’s team that Trump even floated the idea of skipping the session altogether. However, sources indicate that Pence firmly conveyed to investigators that he repeatedly emphasized to Trump that rejecting certain votes would be a clear violation of the Constitution.
According to Smith’s team, Pence reportedly expressed his belief that there is no concept more un-American than allowing a single individual to determine which electoral votes should be counted. This sentiment aligns with his previous statements in his book and public appearances, where he emphasized the importance of upholding our history and traditions. Pence made it clear to the individual that such an idea was contradictory to the principles that define our nation.
According to sources, Pence emphasized that in America, the resolution of election disputes is carried out by courts and elected lawmakers, as outlined in the Constitution, which establishes three co-equal branches of government.
According to sources, Pence felt the mounting pressure, and on Christmas Eve, he briefly considered following Trump’s suggestion to let someone else preside over the proceedings on January 6. In his notes, he wrote that doing otherwise would be “too hurtful to my friend.”
“I have reservations about attending the electoral count,” Pence wrote in his notes in late December. “There are too many questions and doubts, and it is too hurtful to my friend. Therefore, I will not be participating in the certification of the election.”
During a vacation in Colorado, Vice President Pence shared a touching moment with his son, who serves as a Marine. As they sat across from each other at a table, his son reminded him of the oath they both took. The oath, which Pence described to investigators, was a solemn commitment to uphold and protect the Constitution.
According to sources, Pence made the decision to be present at the Capitol on January 6th.
Trump ‘acted recklessly’
In August, Smith filed a federal indictment against Trump, repeatedly mentioning Pence in the process. The indictment highlights Trump’s unsuccessful attempts to involve Pence in his actions.
According to the indictment, Trump knowingly made false claims about outcome-determinative fraud in the election. This is particularly significant because Vice President Pence, who had a personal stake in remaining in office, had already informed Trump that he had not seen any evidence of such fraud.
According to the indictment, President Trump had received similar assessments from a range of individuals and institutions, including senior White House attorneys, senior Justice Department officials, senior staffers on his campaign, officials at the Department of Homeland Security, and state and federal courts throughout the country.
According to the indictment, Trump disregarded repeated claims of widespread election fraud in order to “create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger.” Additionally, the indictment alleges that Trump “directed” his supporters to the Capitol on the morning of Jan. 6, with the intention of obstructing the certification proceeding and exerting pressure on Pence.
According to the indictment, the Vice President’s decision not to alter the election results was made public on the afternoon of January 6. This announcement, coupled with the Defendant’s deceitful actions, led to a large and angry crowd storming the Capitol and violently disrupting the proceeding.
According to sources, Pence had a conversation with Smith’s team earlier this year, where he expressed his opinion on Trump’s words and actions during the Capitol siege. Pence acknowledged that Trump’s words that morning “didn’t help” and criticized his reckless behavior. However, Pence also emphasized that he firmly believes Trump did not intend for the events of January 6th to turn violent.
In the case, Trump has maintained his innocence and strongly denied any wrongdoing. He recently criticized Pence for fabricating stories about him, emphasizing that these allegations are completely false.
In September, Trump took to his social media platform, Truth Social, to clarify his previous statement. He emphasized that he never intended for anyone to prioritize him over the Constitution. Trump also criticized Mike for his perceived failure in addressing voter fraud during the 2020 Presidential Election.
According to a spokesperson for Trump, there are tens of millions of Americans, including Vice President Pence, who have expressed serious concerns about the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential Election. The spokesperson argues that these concerns further support the claim that the indictment against President Trump is lawless and should be dismissed.
Pence has consistently refrained from characterizing the election as “stolen.” In both his public statements and discussions with Smith’s investigators, he expressed his lack of concern regarding widespread fraud. Instead, his focus was on highlighting “irregularities” in the management of elections.
ABC News was unable to obtain comments from both Smith and Pence, as their respective spokespersons declined to provide any statements.
Trump’s attorneys, in a recent court filing, insinuated, without providing any evidence, that Pence may have been coerced into incriminating Trump during his testimony before the special counsel. They suggested that this may have been due to the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into Pence’s handling of classified materials following his departure from the White House.
In January this year, Pence’s attorneys informed the government about several documents discovered at his Indiana home that had classified markings. This prompted the FBI to conduct a search, during which they uncovered one more classified document.
In June, the Department of Justice’s National Security Division notified Pence that they had concluded their investigation and would not be pursuing any criminal charges.
“The possibility of Vice President Pence facing criminal charges gave him a motive to gain favor with authorities. In doing so, he provided information that aligns with the Biden Administration’s preferred, yet false, narrative surrounding this case,” stated Trump attorney Todd Blanche in a filing made on Monday evening. This filing was submitted to the court prior to the release of the information regarding the specifics of Pence’s statements to investigators.”
In the filing, Blanche requests that a judge compel the government to provide all information pertaining to their investigation of Pence’s handling of classified information. The argument is made that this information could potentially impact Pence’s “credibility and bias” as a potential witness against Trump.
The filing suggests that Trump’s attorneys may use this strategy to undermine Pence’s credibility if he is asked to testify in the federal election interference case.