A Reuters photographer says he overheard pro-Trump insurrectionists saying they wanted to hang Mike Pence at the Capitol

·4 min read
  • A Reuters photographer said he heard at least three pro-Trump rioters at the Capitol on Wednesday saying they wanted to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging.

  • The rioters said they "hoped to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor," the photographer, Jim Bourg, tweeted.

  • "It was a common line being repeated. Many more were just talking about how the VP should be executed," he added.

  • Trump has repeatedly and falsely claimed that Pence could have stopped Congress from finalizing Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election, even though Pence has no such legal or constitutional authority.

  • When Pence released a statement saying he could not stop the process, the president publicly turned on him, tweeting that Pence didn't have the "courage" to do what was necessary.

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Related: What the storming of the US Capitol looked like on Wednesday

A Reuters photographer said Friday that he overheard at least three pro-Trump insurrectionists at the US Capitol this week say they wanted to locate Vice President Mike Pence and hang him.

They said they "hoped to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor," the photographer, Jim Bourg, tweeted. "It was a common line being repeated. Many more were just talking about how the VP should be executed."

The riots erupted Wednesday as Congress was counting up electoral votes cast in the November election and debating Republican challenges to some battleground states' electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden. The pro-Trump mob breached barriers at the Capitol, broke into the building, and ransacked lawmakers' offices as police officers frantically evacuated Pence and senior lawmakers.

Other members of Congress, Hill staffers, and reporters hunkered down and sheltered in place, behind makeshift barricades, and in offices. An armed standoff ensued at the House chamber and a Trump supporter was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer as the mob broke into the chamber. The riots resulted in five deaths, including the woman who was shot and a Capitol Police officer who was beaten to death by the president's supporters. Three others died of medical emergencies.

At a rally before the joint session, President Donald Trump whipped his supporters into a frenzy, urging them "to fight," march to the Capitol, and stop Congress from counting the votes and finalizing Biden's victory in the race. In the days leading up to Wednesday's riots, Trump repeatedly singled out Pence and falsely claimed that the vice president had the power to reject of "decertify" electors from battleground states that Trump lost.

"States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!" Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning.

Mike Pence
Vice President Mike Pence finishes a swearing-in ceremony for senators in the Old Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021 Scott J. Applewhite/AP

"If Vice President @Mike_Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency," he added. "Many States want to decertify the mistake they made in certifying incorrect & even fraudulent numbers in a process NOT approved by their State Legislatures (which it must be). Mike can send it back!"

Pence has no such legal or constitutional authority and he released a statement acknowledging that minutes before Congress convened at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday.

"Some believe that as Vice President, I should be able to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally. Others believe that electoral votes should never be challenged in a Joint Session of Congress. After a careful study of our Constitution, our laws, and our history, I believe neither view is correct," the statement said.

Trump took to Twitter to vent his anger after, saying the vice president lacked the "courage" to do what was necessary. When the riots erupted, insurrectionists who laid siege to the Capitol swarmed the halls and could be heard shouting, "Where's Mike Pence," a source close to the vice president told CNN Thursday.

The source added that the president didn't bother checking on Pence or his family's safety after unleashing the mob on the Capitol. And Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told the local news outlet Tulsa World that Pence was furious with Trump in the wake of the riots.

"I've known Mike Pence forever," Inhofe said. "I've never seen Pence as angry as he was today."

Trump, for his part, doesn't seem too concerned about tensions with the vice president.

He reportedly told Pence, "I don't want to be your friend," after the latter refused to block Congress' certification of Biden's victory.

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