One of the January 6 committee’s biggest challenges with its hearings has been to explain to the public, the majority of which lived through that unthinkable day, why things were actually so much worse than what it already knew, when it already knew that Donald Trump, the president of the United States, incited group of violent, armed followers to attack the U.S. Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s victory. On Thursday night, the panel did exactly that, when a National Security witness revealed that the Secret Service agents assigned to protect Mike Pence were terrified they were going to die.
In recorded testimony in which, due to fear of retribution, his voice was scrambled, a security professional working at the White House was asked about a note he took during the riot, in which he wrote, “Service at the Capitol does not sound good right now.” Explaining what that meant, the staffer told the committee: “The members of the VP detail at this time were starting to fear for their own lives. There was a lot of yelling, a lot of very personal calls over the radio…it was disturbing, I don’t like talking about it. But there were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on and so forth. It was getting—for whatever the reason was on the ground, the VP detail thought that this was very ugly…everybody kept saying…at that point it was just reassurances, or I think there were discussions of reinforcements coming but again, it was just chaos, there was just yelling.”
Asked why he made an entry about the situation, the witness said, “If they’re running out of options and they’re getting nervous, it sounds like we came very close to either Service having to use lethal options or worse. At that point I don’t know, is the VP compromised? Is the detail compromised? We didn’t have visibility but it doesn’t…if they’re screaming and saying things like ‘say goodbye to the family,’ the floor needs to know this is going to a whole ‘nother level soon.”
Incidentally, it was reportedly around this time that Trump tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.” That message prompted Matthew Pottinger, Trump’s deputy national security adviser, to resign. “I simply did not want to be associated with the events that were unfolding at the Capitol,” he said Thursday.
On a side note, despite the fact that his security detail protected him from the bloodthirsty mob chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” and he could presumably shed a whole lot of light on the terror of that day, the former former VP has still refused to speak to the January 6 committee. Presumably, because he thinks it won’t play well with the MAGA crowd for his 2024 run.