Former President Donald Trump repeatedly told former Vice President Mike Pence not to “wimp out” — that is to say, not to certify the results of the 2020 election — in the final weeks of their administration, according to an excerpt from Pence’s new book published on Wednesday.
“If it gives you the power, why would you oppose it?” Trump reportedly asked Pence, about a lawsuit from House Republicans that would have allowed Pence to have exclusive authority over the election results.
In the excerpt, published in The Wall Street Journal, the former vice president recounts being admonished by Trump for his refusal to sway the results of the election in their administration’s favor.
Pence’s book, titled “So Help Me God,” is scheduled to be released next Tuesday — the same day that Trump, widely expected to launch another presidential run, has said he’ll make a “very big announcement.”
“‘You can be a historic figure, but if you wimp out, you’re just another somebody,’” Pence said Trump told him after the 2020 election. Pence also wrote that Trump warned him — on Jan. 6, 2021 — he would “go down as a wimp” if he certified the election results.
Pence, in his commentary, reaffirmed that he welcomed debate and challenges to the 2020 presidential results, but did not believe he should reject electors unilaterally.
“‘You’re too honest,’” Pence said Trump told him in early January 2021. “‘Hundreds of thousands are gonna hate your guts. … People are gonna think you’re stupid.’”
Pence said John Eastman, a lawyer for Trump, “stammered” when he suggested that it was “an open question” whether Pence had the authority to reject votes. Pence later found out that Eastman, too, thought rejecting electoral votes was “a bad idea,” the former vice president wrote.
“This guy didn’t even believe what he was telling the president,” Pence wrote of Eastman.
Pence also shared further details of his experience inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, during the insurrection.
When he first saw “protesters standing peacefully,” Pence said, he “felt compassion for all the good people who had traveled to Washington having been told that the outcome of the election could be changed.”
“I turned to my daughter and sighed: ‘God bless those people. They’re gonna be so disappointed,’” Pence recounted of the early parts of Jan. 6.
When it became clear rioters had breached the Capitol, Pence said, he refused to drive away, and insisted on walking, rather than running, to a safer space.
And when the then-president tweeted during the insurrection that Pence lacked “courage,” the former vice president “ignored the tweet and got back to work,” he wrote.
Pence described a conversation with Trump less than a week later, in which Trump said he “just learned” Pence’s family was present in the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“‘Were you scared?’” Pence said Trump asked.
“‘No. I was angry,’” Pence said he responded.
Pence said Trump wondered aloud, “with genuine sadness in his voice,” what would have happened if he hadn’t held a rally on Jan. 6, or if people hadn’t gone to the Capitol.
“‘It’s too terrible to end like this,’” Pence recalled Trump as saying.
In a separate conversation a few days later, after Trump was impeached for the second time, Pence recalled telling Trump they would disagree on two things: Jan. 6 and the fact that Pence was “never gonna stop praying” for Trump.