On the eve of the Jan.6 Capitol riot, then-Vice President Mike Pence was under enormous pressure to overturn the election results. A new book depicting the volatile presidential transition reports President Donald Trump asked Pence, “But wouldn’t it be cool to have that power?”
In the days leading up to the attack, Pence was consulting his lawyers, aides and even former Vice President Dan Quayle about his options.
“Peril” is the latest book in the acclaimed Bob Woodward’s trilogy about Trump's presidency. Co-authored by The Washington Post’s Robert Costa, the book chronicles the tenuous transitional period, from the chaos of the Capitol attack to a six-point strategy by an obscure conservative lawyer to overturn the election.
The book also details extraordinary actions from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley who reportedly had to assure China that Trump and the U.S. had no plans to attack it. And it reveals how some leaders — from cabinet members and people within Trump's inner circle to other Republicans and elected officials — did not believe Trump’s election fraud claims, and yet still publicly aligned with the president.
The book includes more than 200 interviews on “deep background” — meaning the information could be used, but Woodward and Costa couldn’t attribute it.
“[Some Republicans] believe president Trump is central to the GOP keeping power, to acquiring power in the future, and so they don’t want to have a war with him, even if they don’t like him,” Costa told “Chicago Tonight.”
Woodward and Costa report Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee conducted their own probes into election fraud, but didn't find any evidence of what Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani claimed.
“This claim of a stolen election persists, it has become a rallying cry inside the Republican party and it may even be a central claim if he runs again in 2024. So, you don't have a lot of Republicans who want to contest it,” Costa said.
“Peril” also explores the future of the GOP and disagreement within the party of which direction it should go. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted the party to move away from Trump after the Jan. 6 attack, whereas Graham believes the GOP needs to remain loyal to Trump as a leader.
“You see Trump out there having rally after rally, using war-like cadence, ‘Never surrender, never give in.’ He has immense political capital, the polling bears that out. So even in the Republican party, and someone like Mitch McConnell, the GOP leader in the Senate wants to move on, well it’s not easy to move on because he’s out there and he’s galvanizing his supporters in the states to get involved, to run for positions in local election board, state election board,” Costa said. “He wants an even bigger say in how elections are run in this country.
“It’s not an ending story. ‘Peril’ may end as a book, but the peril to American democracy, the threat to the fabric that holds it together is very much present.”