What did Chuck Grassley know, when did he know it and who told him?

The President of the US Senate is the Vice President of America. In addition, the US Constitution instructs the Senate to choose a President Pro Tempore to preside over the Senate when the Vice President is unavailable. Over the years, it’s become a tradition for the Senate to choose an elder of the majority party to fill that position.

For the first 20 days of January 2021, the President of the US Senate was VP Pence. The President Pro Tempore was Sen Chuck Grassley.

On January 5, Sen Grassley made an announcement that was of little interest at the time but, in the wake of the January 6 insurrection, it has taken on much greater import.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reported,

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he would preside over the U.S. Senate debate surrounding disputes of the 2020 election results if Vice President Mike Pence does not show up.
He suggested Pence was not expected to attend

But then there was a retraction an hour or so later by Grassley’s staff who claimed it was a “misinterpretation” and that VP Pence was expected to be there.

The rapidity of the retraction shone an even stronger spotlight on Grassley’s statement rather than quash all speculation as I’m sure was their intention. It certainly had my spidey senses tingling like crazy. I was wondering what kind of plot Trump and his criminal cabal were hatching this time.

Then January 6 erupted in a riot of mob violence and vandalism, and I forgot all about the curious case of Grassley and Pence. At the time I didn’t know Pence had been evacuated from the chamber to the loading dock area. That news didn’t break until later that year.

And it wasn’t until Grassley’s name appeared on my Twitter feed last night, that the dots began to coalesce and connect one with another.

When Grassley made the initial announcement, I wondered who’d told him Pence wouldn’t be there. It wouldn’t have been Pence himself or his staff because that would have fallen to them to announce alongside an explanation of why the VP couldn’t make it.

Instead, it appeared that Pence’s staff, surprised by Grassley’s announcement, were the ones who contacted Grassley’s office to assure them the VP would be in attendance and to advise that their Senator should retract his statement immediately.

But this wasn’t a mistake and Grassley didn’t make it up. Somebody told Grassley he’d be taking over from Pence, probably someone in the White House, certainly someone Grassley trusted and believed. He also believed it was above board or he wouldn’t have announced it. He must’ve been more than a little surprised to realise Pence didn’t know he wouldn’t be there.

I hope the Jan 6 Committee ask Grassley to testify. This may have seemed like a small and forgettable mistake at the time but, in the context of the events the following day, it’s a bombshell. It has the look and smell of a plot within a plot, a fallback plan in case Pence proved uncooperative. Grassley, it appears, was their plan B.

But who was it who spoke to Grassley and what was he told?  Was he told Pence might be called away or that he wouldn’t be there at all? If it was the latter, how were they planning to stop Pence from attending?

In the event that he did stand in for the VP, what was Grassley expected to do? Was he told to reject certain EC votes and ask those states to redo them? Chuck isn’t the sharpest mallet in the toolbox so they could be sure he’d do exactly what he was told without questioning it. Unfortunately for their plans, they didn’t tell Grassley not to announce it.

When the day came and violent insurrectionists invaded the building, Grassley was evacuated and sequestered in a safe space with his fellow Senators. Not so for Pence. His security detail initially sought sanctuary in the Senate President’s rooms in the Capitol but they were very effectively foiled in the attempt.

Dr Allison Gill tweeting as @MuellerSheWrote explains how in this exclusive:

When they realised they were locked out, CCTV picked up the group heading downstairs only minutes ahead of the mob. Their destination was the open, unsecured area of the loading dock. It is easily accessible to vehicles and soon after their arrival, a Secret Service car pulled up – but Pence refused to get in.

This is how Jan 6 Committee member, Jamie Raskin, responded when he learned of this:

“When I heard that [Pence] said, ‘I’m not getting in that car,’ that was utterly chilling to me. Those are six of the most chilling words in American history to me.”

Why did Pence refuse to be driven to safety from a place that was clearly unsafe? Because he’d learned the day before of the plan regarding Grassley which could only mean there was a plot to spirit him away and not return him in time to finish certifying the EC count. The deactivated badges alone provided strong evidence of the existence of such a plot. The Secret Service vehicle driven by an agent unknown to Pence confirmed it.

Grassley had been set up to do what Pence refused to do and out of fear, anger or a sense of duty, Pence decided to thwart their plot to replace him with a more willing conspirator. He, his aides and his security detail remained in place until the all-clear allowed them to re-enter the building. Speaker Pelosi reconvened the joint session at 8 pm that evening and they remained until the EC count was completed and certified at 3:44 am on July 7.

I have no doubt that the January 6 Committee is well aware of all these incidents and how they connect. I hope they quietly subpoena Chuck Grassley and tell him very firmly not to speak to anyone until he’s testified to them. His public announcement on January 5 alerted Pence to the plot against him and that worked to the benefit of democracy. But the Jan 6 Committee members will not want Grassley alerting anyone to the fact that he’s about to spill the beans.

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  1. The committee will be missing the most golden opportunity of all golden opportunities if they do not subpoena Grassley.

    • I agree. The main reason I wrote this was to bring attention to what Grassley had to know and why it matters. I reckon he’ll talk too.

  2. I’d forgotten about the de-activated access to what should have been a safe space for Pence. As for Grassley, I doubt he’d have been give many, if any details about the overall plan. He’s from the old-school and loyal as he was to the new Trump version of the GOP I just don’t see Trump and his people trusting an outsider like Grassley who’d served so long and under the old operating paradigm to just go along. I DO think that they assumed (probably correctly) that when the shit hit the fan with the rioters he’d call for a recess and ask the WH for instructions. And would be too afraid to stand up to them when they said to tank the process by rejecting electoral votes from certain states. I also think that once they realized Pence was going to show up and do his job, they figured if the crowd got their hands on Pence, or even if they didn’t but that Pence had been whisked from the Capitol (or even DC) “for his safety” that Grassley would have been so terrified he’d have done whatever Trump wanted.

    And that gets back to Pence and his team not having their access badges working.

    Yes, it would be good to know from Grassley exactly who told him what (and when) about Pence not presiding over the Joint Session. However, as I said I doubt he would know little beyond that. But, and this is the huge part SOMEONE had to sit there and type in the commands to de-activate a batch of security badges and access codes. Who did THAT? And who gave that person(s) the orders to do it? And when were they told to do so? That and other questions come to mind. Of course, it’s possible the individual(s) who went into the system to make Pence (and his family – let’s not forget that) so vulnerable to being taken by the mob might have covered their tracks. Then again it would take considerable skill to do so in a manner that couldn’t be traced. Possible but it would take some serious skills and given some of the KKKlown KKKar people Trump had in on this plot (including Ornato himself) I’m not so sure someone with “mad” enough skills would have done that particular task.

    I really do hope the J6 Committee knows who did this. And that they’ve got that person on the record but are keeping it quiet for as long as possible. Because that my friends would be the smoking gun, or I guess computer circuit board. Thinking back, and someone correct me if I’m wrong I don’t recall the J6 Committee giving a “hard” statement that the only public hearings would be the round that just concluded. They certainly left an impression they’d be done with public hearings this summer and everyone seemed to take things that way but again, did they ever say that for sure? Perhaps they had an intention all along to hold another hearing or two in September and let’s face it, none of the hearings have delved into the FACT that some Capitol Police offered NO resistance and even seemed to be in league with the rioters. Not to mention there was precious little about those recon tours. If I had to guess the committee was hoping to get more info./testimony before devoting a hearing (or substantial portion of one) to the “inside job” aspect of the attack. This will be something to look out for come September.

    We’ve had our share of bombshells so far but part of me thinks there’s a good chance we ain’t seen nothing yet!

    • denis, you are certainly asking the right questions. I don’t think it will be so hard to figure out who is responsible for deactivating the badges. I believe the office they were locked out of was the Ceremonial Office of the Vice President (S–212 in the Capitol), just outside the Senate Chamber, because the VP is also the President of the Senate, and he was acting in that capacity on Jan.6. Access badges in the capitol are managed by the Senate ID Office and the House ID Office. I am not sure, but logically one would think that access badges for the VP and his staff in the Capitol would be managed by the Senate ID Office, since in the Capitol the VP functions as part of the Senate.
      The Senate ID Office is under the Senate Sergeant at Arms, who on January 6 was Michael Stenger. Stenger died one month ago of “natural causes” on June 27, 2022. He was a Secret Service veteran of more than three decades, named Senate Sgt at Arms in 2018.

      “Sen. Mitch McConnell, who was majority leader at the time, requested Stenger’s resignation the day after the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol. The Senate’s top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer, had vowed that he would fire Stenger when he became Senate majority leader later in the month.” Stenger resigned on January 7th.

      “News of Stenger’s passing on Tuesday fueled baseless conspiracy theories online, with some social media users calling his death “suspicious” and attempting to link it to the surprise Jan. 6 hearing announced just 24 hours earlier by the House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection. Stenger died of natural causes, and there is no evidence he was set to testify at that hearing. Cassidy Hutchinson, a Trump White House aide, testified before the committee.”

      The “baseless conspiracy theories” referred to were in the nature of Q-Anon or similar, “flooding the zone with sh-t.” The intention of this kind of disinfo is to try to make it more difficult to ask the necessary questions.

      • He did testify to the Senate, so at least to some degree he was willing to answer questions on the record. The J6 Committee has TONS of witnesses, testimony and documents/records they’ve gotten. It’s hard to believe they didn’t have a chat with this guy at some point but if he was battling (and losing) with cancer I can see how they wouldn’t put him in a public hearing. Hopefully they were able to interview him before he got too sick and have gotten if not answers then good leads. And who knows? As I said I think despite initial impressions they always intended to have at least one public hearing this fall when it came time to release a report and since many of the interviews were taped we still might see this guy. I rather think that had he refused to talk with them they wouldn’t have let it be known, although I guess if he had cancer and a poor prognosis they might have worried about the optics. Still, in the end even if he played a role in cutting off access to those spaces I doubt he’s the one who sat at a keyboard and typed in the commands. And due to the number of people involved this wasn’t some ten or fifteen second task. AND if one wanted to try and cover their tracks it would have taken a while. The fact remains is that a list of people with access badges and codes was developed, and someone had to go into the system late that morning or after the Joint Session began and type in the cancellation of all those people’s access. Including the VP himself! I’m pretty sure that even some run-of-the mill staffer in the Capitol Security Office pressured into service would remember THAT!

        • PS: In his message-via-zoom at the conclusion of Hearing #8, Chairman Bennie Thompson did confirm there would be more hearings in September. I’m expecting those to centre on congressional members and their roles in the coup plot.

        • Denis and Michelle, that’s an important point, other people besides Stenger must have known about it. I’m just saying, the Senate ID office seems to be the place to zero in on.
          I found an report from CNBC Jan.15, 2021 that includes a photo of Sgt. at Arms Stenger escorting Pence (L), from the House of Representatives to the Senate at the U.S. Capitol “after a challenge was raised during the joint session to certify President-elect Joe Biden … January 6, 2021.” I’m not sure where this fits in or how to interpret it based on what is now known.

    • Lots of great observations here, Denis! Though I’ve come to expect them from you, I’m still delighted when I see one of your long comments!

      First up, who deactivated the access badges? My first thought: it was someone in the Secret Service because they do have mad tech skills. Then I saw priscianus+jr’s comment. I hadn’t considered Michael Stenger but that fits. It explains why McConnell was so quick to demand his resignation because, by the 7th, Mitch would have known what happened to Pence and his entourage. After the events of the previous day, Mitch would’ve had a heightened awareness of his own safety which was, in large part, in the hands of Michael Stenger. By the way, Mitch’s wife, Elaine Chao, resigned on the 7th from her position as Transportation Secretary in Trump’s cabinet.

      As for what Grassley was told – and I expect he was brought before a group of 4 or 5 that included Mark Meadows, Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman. Guiliano, Navarro and even Trump himself may have been there. He would’ve been told that DoJ was investigating election fraud in certain states (Clark), that he had the legal right to reject the EC votes from certain states (Eastman), that more than a hundred of the GOP conference knew about it but to keep it quiet until the moment came for him to announce it. Unfortunately for the plotters, he wasn’t told to refrain from announcing publicly the bit about him replacing Pence – which is what alerted Pence to the plot.

      That’s why the Jan 6 Committee would really like to know who spoke to Grassley and what they told him. It would’ve been the bare minimum but it was enough to ensure that he’d torpedo the whole process if they could get Pence away from the Capitol.

  3. Grassley and Pence. Both know “stuff.” Pence didn’t get in the car. Grassley statement and retraction. Who told him? 45 knowing Oath Keepers / Patriot Boys, etc., were coming to Capitol on 6th. Who told him? (Duh Roger Stone / Bannon who met with them on the 5th.) Jim Jordan/Hawley/and more. They all know “stuff” and all are criminals who would have sacrificed our democracy for their fucking ego’s and power. Hanging isn’t good enough.

    • That’s the one aspect that’s so far missing from the Jan 6 public hearings – exactly who were the Congress members involved and their roles in the coup plot. We know some gave surveillance tours of the Capitol complex, some were in on the actual planning meetings and some helped to rile up the maga crowds (Ted Cruz and Mo Brooks come to mind). I’m expecting all that to come out in September.

  4. Little slow on the uptake. Grassley was on the stage in Iowa sucking up big time making jokes and just being assholes. You should look for the tapes because I know it was covered. I watched the two disgusting pigs in action. Pretty sure it was before the Washington shindig. I look it up!

  5. Typo there. It was a Trump rally probably before November election. Been to sleep since then. And it’s my belief that we need to flood any source of news outlets about corrupt Trump. If we can’t get him prosecuted at least keep the criminal out of the White House.

  6. Remember grassley buried, according to one news source, several million pages of documents related to Kavanaugh & his shady history. Just like trump/barr buried 5000 FBI tips. Being part, albeit a small part of a coup, is small potatoes after putting a belligerent drunk/rapist on the supreme court. Not only that, but kavanaugh lied under oath & ended 50 years of womens’ rights. Grassley why can’t you just die u shriveled raisin of a humanoid??? I can only pray.


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