One of the most stunning moments of Thursday’s Jan. 6 committee hearing came as members presented a 3D model of the areas of the Senate basement where Mike Pence was evacuated after leaving the Senate floor. with the Secret Service.
According to security footage from the day, rioters closed in dangerously close to the vice president as members of the crowd inside and outside the Capitol chanted “Hang Mike Pence.”
And according to committee member Pete Aguilar, a confidential witness told the FBI that members of the Proud Boys, who were present in the riot, “would have killed Mike Pence if they had had the chance.”
“Make no mistake that the vice president’s life was in danger,” the congressman said.
“About 40 feet,” he continued. “That’s all there was between the vice president and the crowd.”
The extent to which Mr Pence was personally in danger during the riot has never been known before. It has been publicly reported that Mr Pence was found to have been kicked out of the Senate Chamber as rioters entered the building, but his whereabouts were so far unknown.
The vice president found himself the target of attackers’ wrath after it became clear he would not interfere to overturn the election result and try to give Donald Trump a second term, despite what Mr Trump had promised the legions of his supporters who descended on the Capitol that day. Mr. Pence’s role in overseeing the Electoral College vote count has made convincing him to interfere in the process a primary goal of Trump lawyers like John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani.
But Mr Pence repeatedly refused to do so and found himself the target of violent threats alongside Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, during the riot.
Thursday’s hearing was largely focused on efforts to convince Mr. Pence to intervene in the election, despite testimony from members of Mr. Trump’s and Pence’s legal teams indicating that many of those engaged in the effort knew he had no legal status.