The big news this morning is this audio of Trump defending the insurgents who wanted to hang Mike Pence to ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl. CNN’s New Day talks about this, yes, still shocking story:
“Axios has audio this morning of former president Trump defending the threats made by the January 6th Capitol insurrectionists to hang Mike Pence. Listen to this,” Brianna Keilar said.
KARL: Were you worried about him during that siege? Were you worried about his safety?
TRUMP: No, I thought he was well protected and I had heard he was in good shape, no. Because I had heard he was in very good shape. But, no —
KARL: You heard the chants. That was terrible, the —
TRUMP: He could have — well, the people are very angry.
KARL: They’re saying hang Mike Pence.
TRUMP: It is common sense, John, it is common sense that you are supposed to protect — how can you, if you know a vote is fraudulent, right, how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?
“First, John, to you, Donald Trump is justifying the calls to hang Mike Pence,” John Berman said.
“Yes. We have hit something new in American history. Never before has a president been on record approving of a violent mob trying to kill his vice president,” John Avlon said.
“And the reason I think you’ll want to pull that back is because we get numb to Donald Trump’s insanity and lies sometimes. But this is a ex-president, effectively endorsing and rationalizing the murder of his vice president as a means to overturning an election to keep him in power. This is so sick that it is worth stopping and paying attention. And for any Republicans who are listening, if you are still backing this man for president in 2024, you’re endorsing this. You own this if you still support it.”
“There is no ambiguity in what he just said there. It is a single entendre. These people are saying ‘hang Mike Pence’ and Donald Trump says, ‘yeah, man, I understand why,’ ” Berman said.
“More than that, it is ‘common sense.’ It is common sense usually in most sane people’s minds to defend the Constitution, to defend the vice president,” Avlon said.
“He says it is common sense to want to hang Mike Pence.”
Berman said he thought Trump’s remarks open up a “whole legal can of worms,” particularly the comment that he was being updated on Pence’s condition. “How significant is that?” he asked legal analyst Elie Hoenig.
“That’s a crucial fact. Big picture, first of all, this is a constitutional nightmare. This is a constitutional worst case scenario. The utter madness of a president, as John just said, who is endorsing, supporting these people who are attacking his vice president,” Hoenig said.
“Now, to the specific point, what it goes to is the president’s intent. And this is what investigators in Congress need to be thinking about and in the Justice Department. People who are defending the president and said when he stood in front of that rally, when he said, ‘Be there, January 6th, we’ll be wild. We’re gonna go down to Congress, and we’re going to fight like hell,’ defenders of the president said, well, what he meant is go down there and picket and carry signs and exercise political speech.
“However, this shows that they were doing — when they were in there breaking windows and attacking the vice president, they were doing exactly what Donald Trump wanted, and hoped and intended, and that issue of intent should be at the heart of any congressional inquiry, or any prosecutorial inquiry,” the attorney said.
“It has specific relevance to things that are being considered or deliberated today, right now, it has to do with the executive privilege claims and the possible contempt by former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former adviser Steve Bannon, not to mention these documents that the January 6th committee wants to get its hands on. How does this new audio impact all of that?” Berman asked.
“It is an absolute reminder of the vital importance of what Congress is doing today, right now, at this hour. This is why it is so important that we, the public, hear testimony from the inner circle. I don’t care how loyal they are to Donald Trump, Meadows, Scavino, Bannon, all the people physically with him on January 6th, they need to come forward and be compelled if necessary and if not willing they need to be prosecuted. It is vital we know what Donald Trump was doing during the attack on January 6th. That will tell the story. All the spin in the world doesn’t matter. If he was there cheering them on, please, supporting them, like we heard in that tape, that’s a violation of his constitutional duty and I argue that’s criminal as well.”
“Fundamental violation of the constitutional obligation, of course,” Avlon said.
“And, look, the issue of a president, cheering on in effect a violent mob trying to kill his vice president is nothing that is remotely covered by executive privilege. This is everybody’s business. This goes to the heart of our democracy, and all the documents must be released, and all the testimony must be compelled. There is nothing more serious than this, and any Republican who says it isn’t is putting their heads in the sand.. What Mike Pence says about this, because his impulse has been to say — ”
“You want to bet?” Berman interjected.
“I think we’re both going to take the under, right? Because Mike Pence is going to find a way to rationalize his boss calling for his own execution. And if that’s not emasculating and disqualifying in addition, I don’t know what is.
“That’s just pathetic,” Avlon said.