Aide Warned Secret Service of Security Risk to Mike Pence on Day Before Capitol Riots: Report

The vice president’s lead security agent was reportedly told that Donald Trump would publicly turn against Pence, potentially putting put him in danger

Evan Vucci/AP.

Mike Pence's lead Secret Service agent was warned about a security risk on Jan. 5, 2021, a day before a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol — some of them chanting for the vice president to be hanged — in an effort to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 presidential victory.

Marc Short, chief of staff to Pence at the time, called the agent, Tim Giebels, into to his office and told him that Trump planned to publicly turn against the vice president for refusing to contest the electoral vote tally which favored Biden, according to a report in The New York Times.

The certification of the electoral votes during a joint session of Congress was disrupted the next day by rioting Trump supporters. Pence absconded into a hiding place, narrowly avoiding the mob.

Short's warning, which was uncovered by Times reporter Maggie Haberman while researching an upcoming book, shows the extent of the discord between the president and Pence in the final days of the administration as Trump and his allies made false claims of election fraud in seeking to remain in power.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Vice President Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress has reconvened to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump, hours after a pro-Trump mob broke into the U.S. Capitol and disrupted proceedings.
Erin Schaff/Getty

More than a year later, Pence disputed the notion that he had any right to interfere in the electoral process on the president's behalf.

"Our former president said I had the right to 'overturn the election.' President Trump is wrong," Pence said in February 2022. "I had no right to overturn the election."

A House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol and wider efforts to overturn Biden's 2020 election victory reportedly heard testimony that alleges Trump approved of the outrage directed at Pence as well as the calls to hang him.

That committee, which is planning to hold public hearings on their findings starting Thursday, questioned Short about his conversation with Giebels, according to the recent Times report, which notes that the Secret Service's response to the Jan. 5 warning is unknown.

Following the Nov. 3, 2020, election, Trump and his allies pressured Pence to act on Jan. 6, according to the Times, but the vice president and his legal team came to the conclusion that he lacked the authority to intervene.

Short reportedly reached out to Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner in late December 2020 to ask if he would help alleviate the growing tension between the president and vice president.

In early January, Pence made it clear to the president that he did not believe he had any authority to reject any of Biden's electoral votes, the Times reports.

On Jan. 5, the day Short warned the Secret Service about a risk to Pence's safety, Trump tweeted that "The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors."

In a letter on Jan. 6, Pence indicated that he had no intention of doing what the president hoped he would do.

"I do not believe that the Founders of our country intended to invest the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress," he wrote.

January 6th Insurrection
Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty

Trump accused Short of being responsible for Pence's decision, according to a previous New York Times report.

"Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country. Because you're sworn to uphold our Constitution," Trump said during his speech at the Ellipse in Washington on Jan. 6 before rioting broke out.

That day he also tweeted that the electoral votes "were based on irregularities and fraud."

"All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN," he wrote before his Twitter account was suspended. "Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage."

Trump later said he thought Pence was "well protected" and "in good shape" on Jan. 6, when he escaped Capitol intruders with seconds to spare.

"The people were very angry," Trump said when asked about the chants to "hang Mike Pence." "It's common sense."

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