Pence refused calls to leave the Capitol during the January 6, 2021, riot because it would create bad optics, his former chief of staff said.
Marc Short said Secret Service asked to remove Pence several times but the former VP said he didn’t want to be seen “fleeing.”
“That’s not a visual I want the world to see,” Pence said, according to Short.
Marc Short, former chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence, said that Pence resisted calls from his security team to leave the Capitol during the January 6, 2021, riot because he didn’t want to project an image of “fleeing” the building.
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Short said that Pence refused to leave his office after being evacuated from the Senate floor since he was in the middle of counting Electoral College votes, despite multiple attempts from Secret Service to exit the premises as the situation at the Capitol became more dire.
“At that point, Secret Service had tried to move him twice, but the vice president was resolute and said: ‘I’m not going to let the free world see us fleeing the Capitol, and I’m staying,’” Short said , recalling visiting Pence’s his office shortly after the evacuation.
Pence eventually agreed to move from the suite when Secret Service officials once again pleaded with him, telling the vice president that they couldn’t protect him in their current location because of a glass door, Short told host Chuck Todd.
“They evacuated us to a secure location at the bottom of the Capitol,” he said. “At one point there was an attempt to again put the vice president into a motorcade, but he was clear to say ‘that’s not a visual I want the world to see of us fleeing the Capitol.’”
Several rioters who stormed the building while lawmakers were meeting to certify the results of the 2020 election chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” though Short said on Sunday that he didn’t personally hear the now-infamous line during the insurrection, adding that he wasn ‘t sure if Pence had heard it either.
The rioters — ardent supporters of former President Donald Trump and his claims of a stolen election — stormed the Capitol building after they listened to a raucous speech from Trump. At the event, the then-president continued to push the debunked theory that he — and not now-President Joe Biden — was the rightful victor in the election.
Biden easily won the Electoral College 306-232 while also capturing the popular vote by a 51%-47% margin, garnering over 7 million more votes than Trump (81 million to 74 million).
So far, more than 760 people have been charged for their actions relating to the riot, according to Insider’s database.
Until this month, Pence, like other major figures in the GOP, had appeared to downplay the events of January 6.
“I’m not going to allow the Democrats or the national media to use one tragic day in January to demean the intentions of 74 million people who stood with us in our cause,” Pence said late last year.
He continued: “And I’m not going to allow the Democrats to use one tragic day in January to distract attention from their failed agenda and the failed policies of the Biden administration. We’re going to focus on the future.”
But Pence made headlines last Friday for a rare break with Trump, saying that the former president was “wrong” to say that the vice president could’ve overturned the results of the 2020 election.
“The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone,” Pence said during his remarks delivered to the Federalist Society, an organization that advocates for a strict interpretation of the Constitution. “And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”
While neither Pence nor Trump have officially declared that they will pursue White House bids in 2024, the former president has teased a run since last year and the former vice president has continued to speak at conservative events across the country since leaving office.
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