Tierna Unruh-Enos is publisher at The Paper.

"Mike Pence" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Somewhere out there is a photo taken on January 6 by a White House Press photographer of former Vice President Mike Pence and his family in a secure location as hundreds of protestors stormed the Capitol steps and things got very violent, very quickly. That photo (if it exists) has not been made public but is now being used as a possible argument in Cowboys for Trump leader Couy Griffin’s defense.

The Inquiry

Last August, the Jan. 6 committee filed its initial request to the National Archives and Records Administration for presidential records tied to the insurrection. In its inquiry, the committee specifically asked the Archives for “all photographs, videos, or other media, including any digital timestamps for such media, taken or recorded within the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, or taken of the crowd assembled for the rally on the morning of Jan. 6 and all communication or other documents related to that media.”

The committee also asked for “all photographs, video or other media including digital timestamps for such media” of Mike Pence and any individuals accompanying him on Jan. 6.” 

What Photos and Where Were They Taken?

In November of last year, ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl released his best-selling novel Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show where he describes having seen these photographs of Pence and his family hiding out. Karl said that these pictures depicted Vice President Pence in “an underground parking garage beneath the Capitol complex.”

According to Karl, his request to publish the pictures was denied by Pence’s spokesperson. Pence has never denied publicly that the photographs exist, nor has he publicly admitted they do.  

On January 4, Griffin’s defense team asked the government for the photos of Pence hiding out to use as part of their defense. On January 18, prosecutors filed paperwork denying the photographs were in the government’s possession.

So why do these photographs matter? Griffin is charged with two misdemeanors for unlawfully breaching the Capitol grounds. In this video which The Paper. posted before it was taken down from the C4T Facebook page, Griffin rallied the crowd with a bullhorn and was there for about an hour. His defense is arguing that the government can only keep its case against him if it can prove that he “entered or remained” in the Capitol or on Capitol grounds while Pence was also present. 

In April, the Associated Press reported that Pence was in fact in a secure room in the Capitol when the rioters breached the grounds. According to the timeline laid out, at 4:08 pm on Jan. 6, as the rioters roamed the Capitol they called out for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and yelled for Pence to be hanged. At that time, Pence was in a secure location phoning Christopher Miller, the acting defense secretary, and demanding that he “Clear the Capitol.”

The rift between Trump and his Vice President had been going on for weeks. He was furious that Pence refused to halt the Electoral College certification, and encouraged the crowd when they chanted “Hang Mike Pence.” The Vice President felt that interfering with the certification process was an act that he considered unconstitutional. 

So far, the committee has not yet subpoenaed Pence to testify nor have they publicly acknowledged the existence of the photographs. Griffin is scheduled for a bench trial on March 21.