Former Vice President Mike Pence was a perhaps unlikely hero of Day 2 of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial — unlikely because the people lauding his courage and extolling his patriotic fulfillment of duty to God and country were the fairly progressive Democrats prosecuting the case that Trump incited an insurrection on Jan. 6. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), for example, described how Trump “turned on” Pence, who was presiding over the counting of President Biden’s electoral win.
The impeachment managers also showed new footage of Pence and his family being evacuated from the Senate chamber down some back stairs at 2:26 p.m., 14 minutes after the pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol building. Pence had been evacuated from the Senate chamber at 2:14 p.m. At 2:24 p.m., the impeachment managers noted, Trump tweeted: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution. … USA demands the truth!” Video from the siege made clear the rioters were reading Trump’s tweets and hunting for Pence.
The time Pence was evacuated and Trump tweeted were public knowledge before the impeachment trial started, but it wasn’t clear if Trump knew what was going on in the Capitol when he tweeted about Pence. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) may have provided that missing link, HuffPost‘s S.V. Date and Politico‘s Kyle Cheney suggest.
Trump called Tuberville during the insurrection, via Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) phone, and Tuberville told reporters Wednesday night he had informed Trump that security personnel had just whisked Pence out of the chamber for his safety. “He didn’t get a chance to say a whole lot because I said, ‘Mr. President, they just took the vice president out. I’ve got to go,'” Tuberville said. Less than 10 minutes later, Trump tweeted his attack on Pence, strongly suggesting, Date notes, that “Trump was aware of the danger Pence was in at the time he posted his tweet.”