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OpinionColumnistsDan Janison

Ex-VP Mike Pence could share hot details from the rooms where it happened

Former Vice President Mike Pence in his hometown

Former Vice President Mike Pence in his hometown of Columbus, Ind., on Jan. 20 after attending President Joe Biden's inauguration. Credit: AP/Michael Conroy

Mike Pence, the previous vice president, slipped out of the limelight and returned to his native Indiana on Jan. 20, shortly after attending President Joe Biden's inauguration. Now it is announced that he has signed up as a visiting fellow with the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Pence's position as a witness to history allows him to tell America — if he chooses — about how and why the violent events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 unfolded as they did.

Remember a few weeks after the 2016 election, how the cast of "Hamilton" confronted Pence in its Broadway audience about Trump's approach to race — and urged him in a statement to work on behalf of "all of us"?

Since then, Pence has earned, if nothing else, the ability to say he was in the room when some very strange things happened. Whether he opens up remains to be seen.

Pence could tell us if his most surprising moment came when fans of the president to whom he catered for four years called out threats against his life during the Capitol insurrection.

Or maybe it was the meeting during which Trump reportedly cursed at him for failing to nullify the votes of the people.

No longer facing electoral risk, Pence can frankly describe all the chaos.

Looking back at Jan. 6, Pence as a seasoned politician could enlighten the public by saying whether he felt Trump's urging rallygoers to "fight like hell" was a mistake, reckless incitement or a proper remark.

That day, Trump went public in bewailing Pence's refusal to try to nullify the election, a power a vice president doesn't have. "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done," Trump said.

Ordinarily a public response from the person attacked would be in order. Given the impeachment trial next week, and the fact that the many in the GOP still is behind the ex-president, Pence's reaction would be relevant.

Looking back further, it would be interesting to hear what Pence thought when in the middle of their elected term, Trump refused to shut down rumors that he was considering dumping Pence from the 2020 Republican ticket.

Pence’s experience as vice president must have been like no other. If nothing else, he bested Trump's low standard of public conduct by a wide measure.

Still, only Pence can answer for the Trump stunts that he did go along with. A vice president's record does not deviate from that of his president, whether it's Biden, Dick Cheney or Al Gore. But candid talk from him would carry credibility. On Nov. 15, The Associated Press reported that Pence may write a book.

While Pence achieves his social distance from Washington, D.C., his brother Rep. Greg Pence (R-Ind.) continues serving in Congress. Greg Pence voted against Trump's impeachment. When the time came to accept or reject Electoral College votes, he voted to accept Arizona's but not Pennsylvania's, adding a warning about "anarchy and violence."

On Jan. 20, Greg Pence said in a prayer, as reported in The Indianapolis Star: "Thank you for the honor that my brother has brought to the state of Indiana, to Columbus, to his name and his family's name. Thank you for sending him to our country, to our state, and now back to our home."