Third day of Capitol riots testimony has started

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WASHINGTON (NBC News) — The Jan. 6 committee says it will present evidence on Thursday about then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Mike Pence to unconstitutionally block certification of the 2020 election. The testimony is expected to connect the efforts to pressure then-Vice President Pence to the deadly Capitol riots.

Thursday’s hearing — the third of at least seven planned by the House committee for June — will focus on the internal battle within the Trump White House over whether Pence could unilaterally stop Joe Biden’s election certification and keep Trump in power.

The committee is expected to present new information through exhibits and live and videotaped testimony.

Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., will play a major role in leading in the hearing, which is slated to include live testimony from former Pence counsel Greg Jacob and retired federal judge Michael Luttig, who also advised Pence.

Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff at the time, will not be testifying in-person but his recorded testimony may be used during the hearing, the Jan. 6 committee aide said.

All three Pence associates had rejected the faulty, far-fetched legal theory touted by conservative attorney John Eastman that the vice president had the authority to reject slates of electors from states where Republicans were launching election challenges.

As rioters breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, some chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” and erected a gallows outside of the building. Pence’s security detail rushed him from the Senate chamber to a nearby room then moved him down a flight of stairs to an underground loading dock, according to reports.

John Wood, senior investigative counsel for the Jan. 6 panel who was a federal prosecutor during the George W. Bush administration, will also question witnesses on Thursday.

The line of questioning will delve into Eastman’s efforts, as well as the counter efforts by Pence, his advisers and lawyers to reject those attempts to overturn the election.

“You have this situation where there was a group of committed public servants who upheld their oaths and were committed to the rule of law who were getting sound advice saying, ‘No, you can’t go down this path. This is unlawful. This is unconstitutional. The vice president doesn’t have this authority,’” the committee aide said.

“And yet at these decision points, the former president always went down the path and escalated the attack on the rule of law and further contributed to the run up to the violence of Jan. 6,” the aide said.