Then-Vice President Mike Pence took “contemporaneous notes” of his conversations with Donald Trump in the days before the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, Special Counsel Jack Smith’s indictment of the former president revealed Tuesday.
Pence’s previously unreported notes are presented as evidence against Trump, who faces four federal charges related to his actions after the 2020 presidential election and unproven claims the election was stolen. Trump is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights.
“As the January 6 congressional certification proceeding approached and other efforts to impair, obstruct, and defeat the federal government function failed, [Trump] sought to enlist the Vice President to use his ceremonial role at the certification to fraudulently alter the election results,” the 45-page indictment alleges.
“The Defendant did this first by using knowingly false claims of election fraud to convince the Vice President to accept the Defendant’s fraudulent electors, reject legitimate electoral votes, or send legitimate electoral votes to state legislatures for review rather than count them. When that failed, the Defendant attempted to use a crowd of supporters that he had gathered in Washington, D.C., to pressure the Vice President to fraudulently alter the election results.”
The indictment cites several phone calls between Trump and Pence in late December and early January in which Trump allegedly made “knowingly false” claims about the election and pressured his vice president to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory. Pence recounted some of these conversations in his memoir, “So Help Me God.”
According to Smith, Pence called Trump on Dec. 25, 2020, to wish him a Merry Christmas but Trump “quickly turned the conversation to January 6 and his request that the Vice President reject electoral votes that day.” Pence pushed back, asserting that he lacked the authority to change the election outcome.
Four days later, Trump allegedly told Pence that law enforcement had discovered evidence of illegal activity in the election. Pence’s notes state that Trump said the “Justice Department [was] finding major infractions,” a claim the special counsel calls false.
The indictment next recounts a New Year’s Day meeting between Trump and his vice president, which Pence wrote about in his memoir. Pence said Trump discussed a lawsuit filed by Republicans that asked a judge to declare the vice president had “exclusive authority and sole discretion to decide which electoral votes should count.” Pence said he reiterated to Trump “that I didn’t believe I possessed that power under the Constitution.”
“You’re too honest,” Trump replied, according to both Pence’s book and the indictment. “Hundreds of thousands are gonna hate your guts… People are gonna think you’re stupid.”
This argument allegedly continued for several days. Then on Jan. 3, “Co-Conspirator 2 circulated a second memorandum that included a new plan under which, contrary to the ECA, the Vice President would send the elector slates to the state legislatures to determine which slate to count,” the indictment states.
A day later, Trump held a meeting with “Co-Conspirator 2,” Pence, Marc Short, the former chief of staff to the vice president, and Greg Jacob, former counsel to the vice president. The alleged purpose of this meeting was to convince Pence to overturn the election, the details of which were described in Pence’s notes. The indictment claims Trump deliberately excluded the White House Counsel from the meeting “because the White House Counsel previously had pushed back on the Defendant’s false claims of election fraud.”
“During the meeting, as reflected in the Vice President’s contemporaneous notes, the Defendant made knowingly false claims of election fraud, including, ‘Bottom line-won every state by 100,000s of votes’ and ‘We won every state,’ and asked – regarding a claim his senior Justice Department officials previously had told him was false, including as recently as the night before – ‘What about 205,000 votes more in PA than voters?'” the indictment alleges.
In another meeting on Jan. 5, Trump allegedly “grew frustrated with Pence and told his vice president he would have to publicly criticize him.”
Trump did so the next day in a speech to his supporters at his now-infamous rally in Washington, D.C. The indictment observes Trump’s supporters chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” and “Traitor Pence!” as they left the rally and marched on the Capitol.
In a statement released following Trump’s indictment, Pence accused Trump of putting himself over the Constitution, and said a Trump candidacy would serve as a distraction from President Biden’s “disastrous” record.
“Today’s indictment serves as an important reminder: anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States,” Pence said. “I will have more to say about the government’s case after reviewing the indictment.”
The former vice president, now a 2024 GOP hopeful, noted that Trump is “entitled to the presumption of innocence.
Pence’s campaign did not respond to requests for additional comment.
Fox News’ Brandon Gillespie, Andrew Murray and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.