The indictment includes new details about the interactions between former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence ahead of January 6, 2021 – insights that special counsel Jack Smith likely gained after compelling Pence to testify following a protracted fight over executive privilege.
Among those insights is a Christmas Day phone call Pence made to Trump to “wish him a Merry Christmas.” Trump, however, “quickly turned the conversation to January 6 and his request that the Vice President reject electoral votes that day,” the indictment says.
Pence pushed back, telling Trump again, “You know I don’t think I have the authority to change the outcome,” according to the indictment.
The fight over executive privilege ended this March when a federal judge ruled that Pence and several other former Trump aides would have to testify to the grand jury about their conversations with Trump. Pence testified before the grand jury in April.
Pence also appears to have provided “contemporaneous notes” to investigators, with the indictment saying that those materials showed how Trump “falsely told the Vice President that the “Justice Dept [was] finding major infractions.”
According to the indictment, Trump told Pence multiple times in the days before January 6 that he had the right to reject the 2020 election results.
In one conversation on January 1, Pence told Trump he didn’t think there was a constitutional basis for Trump’s claims and that the vice president lacked the authority to change the results.
“In response, the Defendant told the Vice President, ‘You’re too honest,’” according to the indictment.
The indictment goes on to say that on January 5, 2021, Trump met alone with Pence, again pushing him to obstruct the certification. When Pence refused, Trump “grew frustrated and told the Vice President that the Defendant would have to publicly criticize him.”
“Upon learning of this, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff was concerned for the Vice President’s safety and alerted the head of the Vice President’s Secret Service detail,” Smith wrote in the indictment.
CNN previously reported on Trump’s pressure campaign on Pence in the lead-up to January 6, 2021, including a six-point plan posited by Trump-aligned attorney John Eastman for the then-vice president to overturn the election results by throwing out electors for Joe Biden in seven states, among other things.