Trump-Pence dynamics take on legal and emotional dimensions around Jan. 6: The Note

Pence aides form the backbone of the Jan. 6 committee’s Thursday hearing.

June 16, 2022, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The political angles are obvious enough, even if the fallout is still coming into view.

What the Jan. 6 committee hopes to establish at its next hearing, with an examination of the pressure placed on former Vice President Mike Pence to intervene to help overturn the 2020 election, is the potential illegality involved in those efforts.

While Pence himself isn't testifying, the cooperation of a range of former Pence aides -- many of whom remain loyal to Pence, if not necessarily the president they all served under -- form the backbone of the committee's Thursday afternoon hearing.

A key component of evidence is never-before-seen photos of Pence and his family taken by an official White House photographer on Jan. 6 itself. In one -- obtained by ABC News' Jonathan Karl ahead of the hearing -- second lady Karen Pence is seen hurriedly closing the curtains of the vice president's ceremonial office at the Capitol, apparently fearful the mob outside could see where they were.

PHOTO: Vice President Mike Pence sits with daughter, Charlotte, and brother, Greg, as wife, Karen, draws the curtains, in ceremonial room off Senate floor where he was evacuated as Trump supporters attacked U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021.
Caption: Vice President Mike Pence sits with daughter, Charlotte, and brother, Greg, as wife, Karen, draws the curtains, in ceremonial room off Senate floor where he was evacuated as Trump supporters attacked U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, obtained exclusively by ABC News.
The White House

Last week, at the prime-time kickoff to this round of hearings, Rep. Liz Cheney teased testimony to come around Trump's awareness of rioters' "hang Mike Pence" chants. Cheney said she was quoting Trump: "Maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence deserves it."

Cheney, R-Wyo., later said in previewing the hearing that the committee will focus on Trump's "relentless effort" to get Pence to refuse to count electoral votes submitted lawfully by states -- pressure she cited a federal judge as saying appears to have broken federal law.

Pence himself won't be near the hearing room Thursday afternoon and instead is keeping a commitment to talk energy policy in Ohio.

But the Trump-Pence relationship will be top of mind as the committee's work continues -- with both policy and political discussions to follow.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Sensitive negotiations on gun reform have hit a snag.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who is leading negotiations for Republicans, raised concerns with reporters Wednesday about red flag laws and the efforts to close the so-called "boyfriend loophole," a reference to the ban on firearm purchases for those convicted of domestic violence against a person they have been married to or with whom they have had a child.

"We've got to come up with a good definition of what that actually means because what this does is it would add a category to a bar for people being able to purchase a firearm if they fall in that category," Cornyn told reporters of negotiations on the "boyfriend loophole." "So it's gotta be clear and it's gotta be something that can actually be applied because we are talking about some pretty serious consequences."

PHOTO: Sen. John Cornyn speaks during a hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 15, 2022.
Sen. John Cornyn speaks during a hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 15, 2022.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

As lawmakers on Capitol Hill weigh these details, funerals in Uvalde for those killed in last month's elementary school shooting are ongoing and Attorney General Merrick Garland visited Buffalo, New York, on Wednesday to meet with families of the victims of the grocery store shooter who allegedly targeted Black victims.

The shooter has been hit with numerous federal charges for allegedly committing a hate crime resulting in death and bodily injury. He's also charged with using a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence.

Senators are pushing for a final vote on gun reforms next week.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

One of the first examples of the long-term fallout over false 2020 election conspiracies is playing out in New Mexico, where a three-member commission in Otero County refused to certify its June 7 election results this week.

The Republican-led commission alleged concerns over the county's use of Dominion voting machines, which were at the center of baseless conspiracy theories attempting to claim that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump. Dominion Voting Systems filed high-profile defamation lawsuits against perpetrators of those claims, including Trump's former attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

PHOTO: New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver speaks on Capitol Hill, July 24, 2018.
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver speaks on Capitol Hill, July 24, 2018.
Susan Walsh/AP

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has now called on the state Supreme Court to order the commission to certify the results, and on Wednesday, the court ordered the commission to approve the results by Friday.

"The post-election canvassing process is a key component of how we maintain our high levels of election integrity in New Mexico and the Otero County Commission is flaunting that process by appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories and potentially nullifying the votes of every Otero County voter who participated in the Primary," Oliver said in a statement.

One of the Otero County commissioners, Couy Griffin, is a co-founder of the group Cowboys for Trump. Griffin was found guilty in federal court earlier this year for entering restricted Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, having climbed over barriers and scaled a wall outside the building during the riot, ABC's Alexander Mallin reported at the time.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

56. That's the number of new laws that 26 states have passed since the 2020 election that make it harder to vote. In their interactive, reader-focused guide, FiveThirtyEight's Elena Mejía and Alex Samuels document which steps of the voting process have been impacted in all 50 states. In some states, nearly every step of the process has been affected.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Thursday morning with ABC's Aaron Katersky detailing the federal hate crime charges leveled against Buffalo supermarket shooter Payton Gendron. Then, ABC's Mireya Villareal joins us from the U.S.-Mexico border to explain the Texas state government's efforts to combat crime by arresting more immigrants. And, ABC's Mike Levine dives into the little-known crime of home title theft and explains how concerned homeowners should be. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Joe Biden at 3:10 p.m. signs into law the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, which is aimed at lowering ocean shipping costs.
  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a press briefing at 12:15 p.m.
  • The House Select Committee Investigating the January 6th Attack on the Capitol holds a hearing at 1 p.m.
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds a hearing at 9:30 a.m. to examine an update on the ongoing Federal response to COVID-19.

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back on Friday for the latest.

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