Carol Leonnig, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of “I Alone Can Fix it,” joins a special live recording of Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast along with Bob Woodward and George Conway. During the discussion, Leonnig shares original reporting on efforts by the Secret Service to remove then-Vice President Mike Pence from the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. “Pence’s people were suspicious about whether this was a security move or a ‘get the Pence out of the House’ move,” says Leonnig, adding that she believes that more information about this and other alleged efforts to stop the certification of the 2020 electoral vote could be shared with the public during the Jan. 6 special committee hearings this summer.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Carol, I want to ask you about something that was in your book, which is on the day of January 6, when the rioters were chanting, hang Mike Pence, the Secret Service told Pence he needed to get in a car and get out of the Capitol. And he famously said, I'm not getting in that car.
And at the time when I read it and a lot of people read it, it seemed like the Secret Service was trying to protect Pence and Pence was saying, no, I've got a constitutional duty here, and I'm going to fulfill it. Jamie Raskin, Congressman from Maryland, member of the January 6 committee-- in a recent talk at Georgetown, Raskin said that they had-- the committee had gotten evidence that would, quote, "blow the roof off the house."
And to explain that, he said-- he called Pence's comments about not getting in the car, quote, "the sixth most chilling words of this entire thing I've ever seen so far." He then elaborated on MSNBC saying that he found the words chilling, quote, "because they were trying to remove him from the situation." And he seems to be saying that the Secret Service was somehow in on the attempted coup. What do you make of Raskin's comments?
CAROL LEONNIG: Pence has been ordered, essentially, by the detail leader to leave his Senate hideaway. He's refused twice when the Secret Service comes to him and says, we got to get the heck out of here. Remember, outside the hideaway windows are the nooses that say, hang Mike Pence. And the rioters are all around the building.
They've been directed a different way, but they're close. Pence refuses to leave. At this point, he's outraged. He is saying, I'm going to stay here until I certify this god damn vote. And Tim Goebel says, sorry, third time, we're out of here. It's not safe.
They go to the basement. And Tim says to him, you need to get in the car. Tim's instruction to him is because the limo is bulletproof. It has a whole host of other security-- a suite of security powers. His goal is to get him in the car, another secure location.
Pence says, Tim, I trust you. But you're not driving the car and I know they're going to drive me out of here. And I am staying. I'm going to do this work. At this time, Pence and his aides, Marc Short, are in communications with Keith Kellogg, national security advisor to Mike Pence. He's in conversation with, essentially, the leader of the Secret Service at that time, Tony Renato.
Kellogg is telling Pence's people in the Capitol, hey, they're considering flying him to Alaska. The reason that conversation is important is Renato is essentially the leader of the Secret Service. He outranks the director at this point. And he is a huge, ardent enabler of President Trump. Pence's people were suspicious about whether this was a security move or a get the Pence out of the House move.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF: When you hear Raskin saying what he said, does that suggest to you he's got some evidence that Renato was in on it and was trying to remove Pence for the purpose of delaying the certification?
CAROL LEONNIG: I think there are a lot of possible things that Raskin had. And it did intrigue me what he said. His comments, when he said, blow the roof off the house-- it's much bigger than that Pence moment. It's about a larger drama-- information that hasn't become public yet that I think is going to be about Republican lawmakers and their role, along with others around Trump, to prevent this over and over again, including Marjorie Taylor Greene on January 17 wanting to declare martial law, three days before the inauguration. That is a stunner to me.