Karen Pence says she ‘never felt afraid’ on January 6 despite ‘hang Mike Pence’ chants

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Despite rioters chanting “hang Mike Pence” on January 6, the former vice president’s wife admitted she was “never” afraid during the Capitol riot, in her first public comments about the incident.

When asked if she was afraid throughout the course of the turbulent day, Karen Pence told ABC News: “I never felt afraid.”

“I really felt like we just had such a peace and God’s presence,” the former second lady recalled. “And just a sense of purpose and determination that I don’t think any of us in the whole group – all the staff and everyone with us – I don’t think any of us felt fear. I think we felt like a sense of resolve.”

ABC News then asked Ms Pence about one specific moment, captured by a now iconic photograph: her closing the curtains to a ceremonial office near the Senate floor while her family was hiding from the rioters. The image shows Mr Pence with his wife, their daughter Charlotte, and the vice president’s brother, Rep Greg Pence. The photo was snapped shortly after Mr Pence was evacuated from the Senate floor.

“I think once you become, you know, second lady, life changed a lot for us. In fact, during the transition, we rented a home near DC. And I remember walking in that home the first day – and Secret Service had put a butcher block paper, you know, all over the windows – and you couldn’t even see outside,” she said. “And every time we traveled, they would have bulletproof glass in every hotel room. So it’s a conditioning thing that I just knew.”

Ms Pence said she applied that logic on that historic day: “Whenever you’re in a situation where someone might be able to shoot through the window, just close the drapes.” She added, “That was my thinking at the time was like, ‘Wait a minute. Things are starting to happen out there. Let’s close the drapes.’”

The former second lady was then asked when she felt that her family was in danger.

“Well, the Secret Service are phenomenal men and women,” she replied. “And they made it clear to us right away that, you know, there might be a point where we would need to move to a different location.”

She continued, “And so that was pretty clear to us from the very beginning because they had come and gotten us out of the Senate chambers and taken us back to Mike’s office and in the Senate. So, it was clear pretty early on that we might need to vacate that room and go somewhere else.”

Interestingly, Mr Pence rehashed a similar telling of the day’s events in his memoir “So Help Me God”: “We stood together in that cramped office and watched the mayhem unfolding inside and around the Capitol on a small television set. The scenes were alarming.”

He wrote: “I have often told our three children that the safest place in the world is to be in the center of God’s will. I knew in my heart that we were where we were supposed to be, doing what we were supposed to be doing. I felt resolve and at peace informed by my upbringing in Indiana, my faith, my family, a lifetime of service and lifelong love of the Constitution.”

Ms Pence’s comments come at an interesting time, as her husband vies for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election. A number of the candidates in the crowded GOP field have downplayed the Capitol riot.

During the election certification process, the former vice president refused to partake in attempting to overturn the 2020 election in favour of Donald Trump. Mr Pence earlier this month recalled that the former president and his advisers “asked me to reject votes, return votes, essentially to overturn the election.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is currently polling second behind former Mr Trump in the race, said last month that the insurrection was a “protest” that “ended up devolving.” He also said that the notion that there “was a plan to somehow overthrow the government of the United States is not true, and it’s something that the media had spun up.”

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy also contended that Mr Trump was not “the cause” of the riot. “The real cause was systematic & pervasive censorship of citizens in the year leading up to it,” Mr Ramaswamy said. “If you tell people they can’t speak, that’s when they scream. If you tell people they can’t scream, that’s when they tear things down. If we fail to admit the truth, Jan. 6 will just be a preview of far worse to come & I don’t want to see us get there.”

As the mob was chanting to “hang” the then vice president, Mr Trump allegedly said he “deserves it,” according to former staff.