January 29, 2023

Marc Short, who was former Vice President Pence’s chief of staff on Jan. 6, 2021, accompanied Pence to the Capitol — and then to a secure location as hordes of Trump supporters overran the building.

During the 187 minutes of rioting, Short said he talked to only one person in the White House. 

“The only conversation I had was with Mark Meadows during those several hours in which we were — had been evacuated and were down in the loading dock underneath the Capitol,” Short told CBS News’ Catherine Herridge in an interview Friday.

Short said he and Pence had a conversation in which they agreed that “it’d probably be a good idea to check in with the White House and to tell them our plans,” which was to proceed with the counting of the electoral votes.  

Short said that when he shared that information with Meadows, “Mark acknowledged that that was probably the best thing to do.” 

Asked if Meadows had given Pence any assurances that President Trump had tried to mobilize help, Short said only that it was “not part of our conversation.”

Vice President Pence Holds Coronavirus Briefing With Health Insurers
Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, listens during a coronavirus briefing with health insurers in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. 

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

One of the storylines that has emerged from that day is the potential discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment — declaring that Trump, who did nothing to stop his supporters from overrunning the Capitol for three hours — was not fit to discharge the duties of the office, and to remove him from the presidency. It’s a determination that would have had to be made by a majority of the Cabinet and the vice president. 

Short said that congressional leaders did place a call in the days after January 6 to encourage Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, but he did not take the call. 

“The vice president sent a letter to Congress on Jan. 12, in which he said, ‘you know, I was encouraged to go beyond my constitutional authority on Jan. 6 and to try to overturn the election, and I did not bow to that pressure. I’m similarly not going to bow to pressure from members of Congress who are trying to irresponsibly invoke a 25th Amendment,'” Short recalled. 

“The reality of the 25th Amendment invocation was really more of a publicity stunt, I think by Democrat leaders than it was something that was seriously taken by our office,” said Short.

Short said he was not aware of any cabinet support for the idea.

A recent documentary, produced by filmmaker Alex Holder, portrays Pence appearing to endorse the invocation of the amendment. He’s handed a phone, appears to look at an email and says, “Yeah, excellent. Print me off a hard copy” — a copy, it is insinuated, of a letter to invoke. Short called this “an incredibly disingenuous portrayal.”

Instead, he said, the email in question was a confirmation of receipt of the letter he had sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that said he rejected the use of the 25th Amendment. 

Former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who has been indicted on contempt of Congress charges for not responding to a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee, has accused Pence of “treason” for not following the White House lawyers and advisers. Short dismissed this criticism and called Navarro a “lifelong Democrat.” 

“Peter fancies himself as a quasi-economist but he’s certainly not a constitutional scholar,” Short said. “And so I’m not really worried about what his perspective is on how that day played out.”

Grace Kazarian contributed to the report. 

This story has been updated.

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