What to Know in Washington: Indictment Eyes Pressure On Pence

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Donald Trump’s attempt to strong-arm Mike Pence into refusing to certify the result of the 2020 election wasn’t just an unseemly pressure campaign that put his vice president’s life at risk, it was the lynchpin of a scheme to defraud America, according to prosecutors.

A grand jury in Washington returned an indictment yesterday in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation charging Trump with conspiracy to reverse his election loss through deceit and false claims of voter fraud. The indictment relies heavily on Trump’s treatment of Pence, who was forced to flee the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as a mob of Trump supporters attempted to prevent Pence’s certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

Related: Trump Indictment Showcases Enron-Era Law’s Use in Jan. 6 Cases

Photographer: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Pence, derided by Trump as “too honest” in a phone call cited in the indictment, resisted pressure and carried out his ceremonial role, thwarting the former president’s alleged plot to stay in office.

The indictment also drew Pence’s strongest rebuke of Trump yet. The Constitution “is more important than any one man’s career,” Pence said in a statement. “Anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States.”

After testifying before the grand jury that handed down the indictment, the former vice president is now poised to be a star witness in his former boss’s criminal trial, even as both men seek the Republican nomination for the 2024 election. Pence also has “contemporaneous notes” of conversations with Trump, according to the indictment, which are likely to be key evidence in a trial. Erik Larson, Sabrina Willmer, and David Voreacos have the full story.

The indictment also refers to six unindicted “co-conspirators” that prosecutors allege assisted Trump in his “criminal efforts to overturn” the election.

The individuals aren’t named. But the indictment gives enough detail about their actions — often quoting them directly — to identify five of the six based on publicly available information, particularly the final report of the congressional committee that investigated the 2020 election. Gregory Korte and Zoe Tillman detail the co-conspirators’ identities.


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To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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