Donald Trump said maybe mob was right to chant ‘Hang Mike Pence’ – report

Donald Trump reportedly reacted to chants about hanging his vice-president, Mike Pence, during the US Capitol attack by saying maybe the mob was right.

The New York Times reported the bombshell White House comment on Tuesday.

Two witnesses, the paper said, have confirmed to the House committee investigating the events of 6 January 2021 that Mark Meadows, then Trump’s chief of staff, described Trump “saying something to the effect of, maybe Mr Pence should be hung”.

The Times said it was not clear if Trump was serious.

Pence was at the Capitol to preside over certification of Joe Biden’s victory, the process the mob tried to stop after being told to “fight like hell” by Trump.

A makeshift gallows was set up outside. Rioters inside were heard to chant “Hang Mike Pence”. Multiple accounts have said aides pleaded with Trump to call off the mob but he delayed for hours.

Despite Trump advisers’ attempts to persuade him otherwise, Pence concluded he did not have the authority to reject electoral college results.

Trump has defended the chants about hanging Pence before, telling the author Jon Karl, “Well, the people were very angry,” and adding that it was just “common sense” to be so because Pence was not attempting to block electoral college results.

News of Trump’s contemporaneous remark about Pence and hanging comes at a time of tension between the two men, as both eye a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

Trump continues to broadcast his lie about electoral fraud in 2020, which fueled the Capitol attack, and to endorse Republicans who repeat it.

Pence has backed candidates opposed to the Trump lie including Brian Kemp, the governor of Georgia who scored a landslide victory over a Trump-backed challenger in a primary contest on Tuesday.

A Trump spokesman, Taylor Budowich, told the Times: “This partisan committee’s vague ‘leaks’, anonymous testimony and willingness to alter evidence proves it’s just an extension of the Democrat smear campaign that has been exposed time and time again for being fabricated and dishonest.”

But, as the paper put it: “Mr Budowich did not address the substance of the information provided to the committee.”

Meadows did not comment. He cooperated with the House committee then withdrew. It referred him to the Department of Justice for a charge of criminal contempt of Congress, like that to which the Trump ally Steve Bannon has pleaded not guilty. Contempt of Congress can bring prison time but in Meadows’ case no charge has been forthcoming.

The Times also cited unnamed sources as saying witnesses have told the January 6 committee Meadows “used the fireplace in his office to burn documents”.

The Guardian reported this week that the House committee is preparing to hold six public hearings in June, the first and last in prime time.

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