Nov 15, 2022

Mike Pence opens up about Jan. 6 Transcript

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The former vice president spoke candidly with “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir about the insurrection and his future plans. Read the transcript here.

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David (00:00):

ABC News exclusive. Our interview with former Vice President Mike Pence, speaking for the first time about January 6th, his role that day, and about former President Trump. The former vice president sitting down with me at his home in Indiana. He spent four years as the loyal vice president. He was there in the weeks after the 2020 election, and he was there on January 6th, breaking with the former president. Tonight, what he says about the former president’s words and actions, calling them reckless. Pence saying Trump endangered him, his family, and everyone at the Capitol.

And tonight, for the first time, we hear from Pence about the motorcade waiting to race him out of the Capitol, Pence, refusing to get in the car. And tonight with the former president set to announce as soon as tomorrow that he is running again, we asked Pence, “Should Donald Trump ever be president again?” Our interview tonight with Mike Pence.

I know this is the first time you’re talking about January 6th, and we appreciate it. And that’s where I want to begin. The morning of January 6th, shortly after 11:00 AM, and I know the phone rings. The operator says, “Please hold for the President.” What did he ask you? What did he say to you when he came on the line?

Mike Pence (01:07):

I picked up the phone, and the President asked me where I was on the electoral count that would take place that day. And I told him, “Despite what you issued last night from your campaign, Mr. President, I’ve been very clear that I don’t have the authority to reject votes during the electoral count or return those votes to the states.” And it went downhill from there. The President became very irate on the phone. He said that if that was true, that he made a mistake five years ago.

David (01:45):

You write that the President told you you will go down as a wimp. And you reminded him of the oath that you both took?

Mike Pence (01:54):

The President often said that we need to protect the country. And I reminded him, we both took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I told him it was a promise that I made to the American people and to almighty God.

David (02:14):

Did you ever point blank say to the President, “I will not do this. I will not intervene. We lost this election.”

Mike Pence (02:22):

I did, David. Many times.

David (02:24):

We know because we have learned in testimony since that it’s believed that the President was aware that people in that crowd, that some of them might have been armed. And that he then said, “We’re going to march to the Capitol and send them there anyway.” He knew you were at the Capitol, that lawmakers were at the Capitol. What do you make of that?

Mike Pence (02:50):

Well, I thought the President’s words were reckless and his actions were reckless. The President’s words that day at the rally endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol building.

David (03:10):

When did you learn that the rioters had breached the Capitol?

Mike Pence (03:15):

When Elizabeth McDonough, the Parliamentarian of the Senate, turned around in her chair and said, “Rioters have breached the first floor of the Capitol.” And then my secret service agent, Maximilian, came on the House floor and said, “Mr. Vice President, we’ve got to go.”

David (03:31):

You saw him walking right toward you?

Mike Pence (03:33):

Yes. He told me that we needed to leave the building because rioters had breached the Capitol on the House side.

David (03:41):

You’re in that small office off the Senate Chamber now with your wife, Karen, your daughter, Charlotte, your brother, Greg, who’s also a member of Congress, and you’re all watching on a small TV in that office. What did you make of what you were seeing?

Mike Pence (03:58):

It infuriated me.

As the television images started to unfold, to see people smashing their way through windows, to see them assaulting police officers, and climbing one over another in a riotous scene, it angered me, David. And I was filled with an indignation that, “Not this, not here, not in America.”

David (04:34):

We’ve all seen that image now of your wife, Karen, pulling the curtain closed-

Mike Pence (04:39):


David (04:39):

…in that office. What was she seeing and hearing? What led her to close that curtain?

Mike Pence (04:46):

Well, we could hear the crowds outside the Capitol. And when we began to move, we could hear the crowds inside the Capitol.

David (04:55):

Was there fear in that office when Karen closed the curtain and you were watching on that TV what was unfolding?

Mike Pence (05:01):

I must tell you, I felt no fear. I was filled with indignation about what I saw. The Secret Service came in shortly thereafter and told me I need to leave the building again. And I said, “I’m not leaving.” But when my lead agent, Tim Gables, who is a great public servant, came in and said, “Sir, we’ve got to get you out of the building now,” I stuck my finger in his chest and said, “You’re not hearing me. I’m not leaving.” I said, “I’m not giving those people the sight of a 16 car motorcade speeding away from the Capitol.” And at that point, he looked at me and said, “Well, you can’t stay here. That’s a glass door. We can’t protect you here.” And at that point, Tim Gable said, “Well, we could take you to the loading dock. That’s secure.”

David (06:05):

We have all seen that image of you coming out of the office, going down the stairs. In that moment, what could you hear? And how close were the rioters?

Mike Pence (06:19):

Well, we could hear the sound of footfall and chanting and crowd noise.

I wouldn’t learn until much later that the rioters had actually come fairly close to where we were.

David (06:36):

How close?

Mike Pence (06:38):

I’d leave that to others.

David (06:40):

I mean, there have been reports they were just 40 feet away.

You’re now at the loading dock, and you see that the motorcade has now been repositioned facing outward to go up the ramp and out of the Capitol.

Mike Pence (06:55):


David (06:56):

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

Mike Pence (06:59):

Well, they were walking us toward the motorcade with the doors on our suburban open on either side. And I saw that they had positioned vehicles on the ramp. And I just turned to my Secret Service lead and said, “I’m not getting in that car.”

David (07:21):

He wanted you just to wait at the car.

Mike Pence (07:22):

[inaudible 00:07:23] “Sir, we’re not leaving.” That he heard me. We’re not leaving. We’re just going to have you hold in the car.

David (07:29):

Why wouldn’t you get in the car?

Mike Pence (07:31):

Well, he said, “We’re not leaving.” And I said, “Tim, you’re a man of integrity, but you’re not driving that car.” And I just assumed that if we got in the car and closed those 200 pound doors, that, not my team in the loading dock, but that somebody maybe back at Secret Service Headquarters would simply give the driver an order to go.

David (07:54):

And you were concerned that if you left the Capitol, you might be prevented from getting back to certify that vote.

Mike Pence (08:00):

I think that was it, David. I just didn’t want those rioters to see the Vice President’s motorcade speeding away from Capitol Hill. I didn’t want to give them that satisfaction.

David (08:15):

Members were barricaded inside the House chamber. And in the middle of it all, you can see that the President has tweeted. 2:24 PM, The President tweets, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.”

Mike Pence (08:42):

It angered me. But I turned to my daughter who was standing nearby, and I said, “It doesn’t take courage to break the law. It takes courage to uphold the law.” I mean, the President’s words were reckless. It was clear he decided to be part of the problem.

David (09:03):

It was almost immediate the moment the Tweet went out, and you could see the response from rioters on the Hill.

They were saying, “Hang Mike Pence. Nothing but a traitor. He deserves to burn with the rest of them.”

Mike Pence (09:23):

Well, I had no doubt that it would have the effect it had.

David (09:28):

Over the course of several hours, you spoke with the acting Defense Secretary, you spoke with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley.

Mike Pence (09:36):

I did.

David (09:36):

You spoke with the Acting Attorney General, Jeff Rosen, with the Chief of Capitol Police. Where was the President in all this?

Mike Pence (09:47):

David, I was at the Capitol. I wasn’t at the White House.

David (09:50):

And when you learned later that he was watching all this unfold on TV.

Mike Pence (09:55):

I can’t account for what the President was doing that day. I was at a loading dock in the Capitol where a riot was taking place.

David (10:03):

But why wasn’t he making these calls?

Mike Pence (10:08):

That’d be a good question for him.

David (10:11):

Is there any excuse when you see that Capitol is under attack, when you know that your loyal Vice President is at the Capitol with his wife, with lawmakers, and their staff members, that you would wait until 4:17 PM to say, “Go home.”

Mike Pence (10:29):

David, I don’t know what the President was doing that afternoon. I know that what some testimony that’s been presented to the January 6th Committee, but I knew what my duty was and my determination to do it.

David (10:44):

At any point on that day, on January 6th that this was unfolding, did the President reach out to talk to you to ask you how you were doing? To check on your safety?

Mike Pence (10:58):

I never heard from the President or the White House that day.

David (11:02):

We do know that the former President could announce any day now that he’s running for president yet again. Given all that you witnessed in the Capitol on that day, this is a pretty straightforward question, a yes or a no. Do you believe that Donald Trump should ever be President again?

Mike Pence (11:22):

David, I think that’s up to the American people. But I think we’ll have better choices in the future. The people of this country actually get along pretty well once you get out of politics. And I think they want to see their national leaders start to reflect that same compassion and generosity of spirit. So in the days ahead, I think there will be better choices.

David (11:53):

Better choices than Donald Trump?

Mike Pence (11:56):

And for me and my family, we will be reflecting about what our role is in that.

David (12:04):

Will you run for President in 2024?

Mike Pence (12:06):

Well, we’re giving it consideration in our house. Prayerful consideration.

David (12:11):

Do you believe you can beat Donald Trump?

Mike Pence (12:14):

Well, that would be for others to say. And it’d be for us to decide whether or not we’d want to test that.

David (12:21):

So, if you decide to run and he’s up there, so be it.

Mike Pence (12:25):

So be it.

David (12:27):

And we should know tonight that there is much more to this interview, what we had never heard before. Mike Pence on the first conversation he had with the President five days after January 6th. What the President said to him, what the president asked him in that moment. Also, what President Trump acknowledged about that rally, and when was the last time they spoke. Also, Mike Pence on the midterms. Did Trump hurt Republicans? Pence on the classified documents. And we asked Pence does he regret his own rhetoric? What Pence said himself just days before January 6th. It all airs at a primetime special tonight at 10:00 PM Eastern right here. Breaking with the President: The Mike Pence Interview, again, 10:00 PM Eastern right here on ABC and on Hulu. And Mike Pence’s book, So Help Me God, comes out tomorrow.

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