Trump White House staff detail his ‘heated’ Jan. 6 call with Pence

Photos of then-President Trump are shown during a House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th hearing on Thursday.
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

Former White House staffers described a “heated” Jan. 6, 2021, call between President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in footage shown Thursday by the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The video revealed new details about the pair’s relationship before the president condemned his No. 2 for allegedly lacking the courage to overturn an election, leading to calls among Trump’s supporters gathered at the Capitol to “hang Mike Pence.”

“Despite the fact that the vice president consistently told the president he did not have and would not want the power to decide the outcome of the presidential election, Donald Trump continued to pressure the vice president, both publicly and privately,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands), who led Thursday’s hearing, said. “Things reached a boiling point on Jan. 6, and the consequences were disastrous.”


Former Pence counsel Greg Jacob testified that on the morning of Jan. 6, he, his Chief of Staff Marc Short, Communications Director Devin O’Malley and Legislative Affairs Director Chris Hodgson went to the vice president’s residence.

“And we were told that a call had come in from the president,” Jacob said. “The vice president stepped out of the room to take that call, and no staff went with him.”

But several Trump family members were with him in the Oval Office, Aguilar said, before showing interviews with them and others, as well as never-before-seen images from the National Archives of the president taking the call.

Eric Herschmann, a former White House lawyer, told investigators he saw Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Lara Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Ivanka Trump, who described the call to investigators as “very sort of loose and casual.”

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) during the hearing.
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) during the hearing.
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)
An image of a noose hanging before the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
An image of a noose hanging before the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, is displayed on a screen during the hearing.
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

Herschmann said he could hear only the president’s side of the conversation. While it began with a calm tone, he said, it “became heated,” a term Ivanka Trump also used to describe the conversation.

“Until it became somewhat in a louder tone, I don’t think anyone was paying attention to it initially,” Herschmann said.

“I remember hearing the word ‘wimp,’ ” Nicholas Luna, a former assistant to Trump, said in a deposition. “Either he called him a wimp — I don’t remember if he said: ‘You are a wimp’; ‘You’ll be a wimp.’ ‘Wimp’ is the word I remember.”

Gen. Keith Kellogg, Pence’s former national security advisor, said he remembered hearing about Trump telling Pence something to the effect of, “You’re not tough enough to make the call.”

“It was a different tone than I’d heard him take with the vice president before,” Ivanka Trump added.

Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff, Julie Radford, told investigators that Ivanka relayed to her “that her dad had just had an upsetting conversation with the vice president.” Herschmann said Ivanka Trump looked “uncomfortable” after that moment in Dan Scavino’s office.

Asked whether she remembered what Ivanka Trump said her father had called Pence, Radford responded: “The P-word.”