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Former Pence chief of staff says Meadows was "telling different audiences all sorts of stories" after 2020 election

Former Pence chief of staff on Jan. 6 committee hearings
Former Pence chief of staff says Meadows was "telling different audiences all sorts of stories" after 2020 election 07:01

Washington — Marc Short, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said Sunday that he believes Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff under former President Donald Trump, was sharing different views about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election with different audiences and allowed conspiracy theories about the race to be shared with the former president.

"Mark would often say to me that he was working to try to get the president to concede and accept the results of the election. And at the same time it was clear he was bringing in lots of other people into the White House that were feeding the president different conspiracy theories," Short said in an interview with "Face the Nation."  "I think that Mark was telling different audiences all sorts of different stories and so, I think, as I've said on many occasions, I believe the president was very poorly served by the team he had around him, and I think that they fed him many conspiracy theories about the events that conspired on Election Day and then follow-up."

Short was with Pence on Jan. 6, 2021, when the Secret Service whisked the vice president, his family and staff out of the Senate and to a secure location after a mob of Trump's supporters breached the U.S. Capitol. Short answered questions in private from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, testifying about what he knew about the former president's efforts to pressure Pence to reject state electoral votes during the joint session of Congress and unilaterally declare Trump the winner.

Pence refused to bow to Trump's pressure and determined he did not have the authority to overturn the results of the election. White House aides told the select committee that Trump called Pence a "wimp" and "the 'p' word" in a call on the morning of Jan. 6.

While Pence would be a crucial figure to the select committee's investigation into the events leading up to and on Jan. 6, Rep. Pete Aguilar, a Democrat from California who led the panel's hearing last week on the pressure campaign targeting the former vice president, refused to say Sunday whether Pence will testify before House investigators.

"We would obviously love to gather more information, but I think we clearly laid out the case that the president had no regard for the vice president's safety, never reached out to him that day, at all, and was willing to sacrifice his own vice 'resident while stopping a peaceful transfer of power if it meant holding on to power himself," Aguilar said in an interview on "Face the Nation."

Aguilar says Jan. 6 committee hearings are about "piecing together the puzzle for the American public" 07:09

Short, however, said Aguilar "should not expect" Pence to speak with the committee.

"I think it would be incredibly unprecedented," he said. "Conversations between a president, vice president that there is a separation of powers that should be respected. And let's keep in mind that there is currently a former vice president who occupies the Oval Office. Do you want Congress to be able to drag up former vice presidents for certain subpoenas or for certain testimony? I think it could create a terrible precedent for sure."

The select committee has held five public hearings across June to present the findings of their investigation thus far, with more expected in July as lawmakers continue to receive more information. At its most recent hearing Thursday, former Justice Department leaders testified about Trump's attempts to replace them with a department official, Jeffrey Clark, who supported the efforts to reverse the election results, and discussed Trump's action to pressure the department to challenge his loss.

The committee also presented emails and text messages that showed how Meadows spread a conspiracy theory spouted in a YouTube video that claimed Italian satellites were changing votes cast for Trump to President Biden.

Aguilar said the committee has shown that Trump knew he lost the election, yet continued to spread unfounded claims it had rigged against him in an attempt to stop the transfer of power. 

"What we have laid out clearly indicates that the president, you know, knew he lost the election, and then he continued to gravitate to these conspiracy theories along the way, in November and December calling [the] election corrupt, as we heard the Department of Justice officials, and then when every legal door had closed and he lost over 60 lawsuits, then the pressure campaign to the Department of Justice, to his own vice president, that's what we saw," he said. "But there was no shortage of conspiracy theorists in his ear each and every time, the text messages to Mark Meadows lay that out, theory after theory, individuals bringing things up that had no basis in fact, and that his own Department of Justice refuted."

The committee also showed that a number of Republicans in Congress — Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania — inquired about or explicitly asked for presidential pardons.

"Folks asking for pardons generally feel that they did something illegal," Aguilar said. "And so I think it's important that the public understands that."

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