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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Billy House

Ivanka Trump testified father’s call with Pence saddened her

WASHINGTON — Ivanka Trump told investigators for the Jan. 6 House committee that she was saddened by an Oval Office phone call she overheard in which her father tried unsuccessfully to convince Vice President Mike Pence to help overturn their election loss.

Former President Donald Trump’s daughter, who served as an adviser to him in the White House, said it was a “pretty heated phone conversation” about Pence’s role in the electoral vote certification in the Senate.

A transcript of her testimony to the committee investigating last year’s assault on the U.S. Capitol was among more than 30 released Friday night. Also released was the testimony of former Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and one of Donald Trump’s election attorneys, Sidney Powell.

Pence ultimately refused to reject electoral votes as then-President Trump wanted him to do.

“There appeared to be a discussion over what the vice president’s rights were in his position and obligations in his position presiding over the Senate,” Ivanka Trump told the committee.

“It was a different tone that I had heard him take with the vice president before,” she said. “It saddened me to see them having a disagreement. They had been very consistently on the same page.”

The transcripts released Friday join dozens of others made public this week, along with the committee’s final report after a 17-month investigation. The 814-page report, released late Thursday, blames Trump for inciting violence that day and seeking to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.

Former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving told the committee that in his deposition that two days before Jan. 6, he’d received call from then U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund that he’d been offered about 125 unarmed National Guardsmen to help with the Capitol security.

They decided to have a conference call with the then Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Mike Stenger to talk about it. The decision was to not accept the offer.

“It was a combination of operationally the chief didn’t feel that they would add much to his plan, and the intelligence really didn’t speak for anything that would justify the need for them,” Irving said.

In a sign of how shocking the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6 was, Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short testified he had taken the opportunity to have a cheeseburger at the Senate carryout in the building basement when police started running by and telling people to evacuate. Short went upstairs and met up with Pence in his ceremonial office shortly after he had been evacuated from the Senate floor.

“I never got my cheeseburger,” he testified.

Ivanka Trump recalls that sometime after lunch, Eric Herschmann, a senior White House adviser, walked into her office as asked her to turn on the TV.

“And that’s when I became aware that there was violence that was taking place at the Capitol. That was the first time,” she recalled.

She said, “Obviously, it was shocking and completely unacceptable.” She and Herschmann went to the Oval Office, “to ensure that he was aware of what was happening and to make sure he issued a strong statement.”

She said she found her father in the dining room, at the head of a table. She did not recall if he had a TV on, but believed he was aware of the violence.

“I felt he was aware because we immediately discussed what the statement should say,” she said.

She said she had no indication of violence before hand and was shocked by it.

“And I don’t believe anyone I knew of believed there would be,” she said.

After Pence refused to go along with Donald Trump’s plan to reject electors while the mob was attacking the Capitol the relationship between the two turned sour.

Pence medal

Former National Security Advisor Keith Kellogg testified that Trump and Pence no longer had their daily conversations. To heal the fracture and get them talking again, Kellogg suggested to other White House aides that they arrange for Pence to receive the Presidential Medal of Honor to heal the rift.

The investigators didn’t follow up and ask what became of that idea. Pence didn’t receive a medal.

Sidney Powell, an attorney who worked with Trump’s legal team to discredit the election results, testified that she first became convinced there was fraud on election night. She said she learned from reporting on Fox News of vote totals shrinking and election sites closing in ways she felt indicated fraud.

Moreover, the results didn’t “jibe” with the enthusiasm she witnesses at Trump rallies, she told the panel.

A reference in one transcript suggests even Trump wasn’t convinced by the conspiracies she came to embrace.

Hope Hicks, a White House communications director, described in her deposition Trump muting Powell while she was on the phone describing her theory about the Iranians, the Venezuelans and potentially the Chinese interfering with Dominion voting machines and telling Hicks and others in the Oval Office that the idea sounded “crazy.”

“He said, like ‘This does sound crazy, doesn’t it?” Hicks testified. “And I think I said, ‘Yes, it does.’”

Attorney General Bill Barr said he felt compelled to have the Justice Department some of the complaints being raised after the election.

“I sort of shudder to think what the situation would have been if the position of the department was, ‘We’re not even looking at this until after Biden’s in office.’” Barr testified. “I’m not sure we would’ve had a transition at all. So that’s why I did it.”

He became convinced, however, that there wasn’t fraud sufficient to overturn the results and said so publicly. This angered Trump.

“The president was as mad as I’ve ever seen him,” Barr recalled, according to his transcript. He said Trump told him, “You didn’t have to say this. You must’ve said this because you hate Trump.”


(Bloomberg News writers Jennifer Jacobs, Steven T. Dennis, Elizabeth Wasserman, Meghashyam Mali and Joe Schneider contributed to this report.)

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