UPDATE: Pence, a Christmas call, Georgia star in Trump indictment



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Vice President Mike Pence, who confounded attempts by then-President Donald Trump to remain in power after Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, plays a key part in the indictment charging Trump with conspiring to defraud the United States.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Pence’s role was to take part in a ceremonial duty at the U.S. Capitol: Certify the election results from November 2020 that showed Biden defeated Trump.

Trump, working with six co-conspirators, pushed Pence to refuse to certify the results based on his accusations of voter fraud on multiple occasions, the indictment alleges.

But the Vice President who had stood at Trump’s side for four stormy years refused.

In special counsel Jack Smith’s 45-page indictment of Trump, Pence is a frequent participant in the narrative, which includes detailed recollections of private calls and conversations.

The indictment describes Trump pressuring Pence to overturn or otherswise tamper with 2020 election results on a number of occasions in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, including on Christmas Day 2020.

“When the Vice President called the defendant to wish him a Merry Christmas, the defendant quickly turned the conversations to Jan. 6 and his request that the Vice President reject electoral votes that day,” the indictment says.

Pence told him, “You know I don’t think I have the authority to change the outcome,” it says.

Then, on New Years Day, Trump “called the Vice President and berated him” after learning Pence had opposed a lawsuit that sought to give the Vice President the ability to reject or return votes to the states at the Jan. 6 certification, the indictment says.

Pence “responded that he thought there was no constitutional base for such authority and that it was improper,” the indictment reads. In response, it says, Trump told him “You’re too honest.”

Angry Trump supporters launched a violent uprising on Jan. 6, forcing an hours-long delay in the certification. But Pence and congressional leaders eventually went ahead with declaring Biden the winner.

Pence, a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said in a statement on Tuesday that the indictment against Trump “serves as an important reminder: anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be president of the United States.”

“The former president is entitled to the presumption of innocence but with this indictment, his candidacy means more talk about January 6th and more distractions,” he said.

The filing goes into detail about phone calls Trump had with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr. Trump could also be facing indictments this month in Fulton County.  Two former state lawmakers are going to testify in Fulton County’s investigation. The AJC reports ex-representative Bee Nguyen and Sen. Jen Jordan have been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury this month. Both women testified before a separate special grand jury last year after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani spoke in a hearing. District Attorney Fani Willis previously stated that indictments connected to the 2020 election in Georgia would likely be coming down in August.  

Trump called Tuesday’s development “nothing more” than the latest Biden Administration attempt to interfere with the 2024 presidential election.