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Pence opens up on Trump and Jan. 6, GOP takes notice after dismal midterms

Former Vice President Mike Pence, long written off as no longer viable within the Republican Party after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack, has recaptured the party's attention in the wake of Tuesday's bruising midterm results.

In an excerpt of his forthcoming memoir published inthe Wall Street Journal, which ran not long after Election Day came to a close, Pence revealed multiple new details about his direct interactions with former President Donald Trump in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The former vice president and possible 2024 contender unloaded at length for the first time. He wrote that in a meeting shortly after the 2020 presidential election, he counseled Trump to accept reality and prepare to run again in 2024, but that Trump sounded “weary.”

Pence also detailed a phone call from Trump on New Year’s Day in 2021, in which Trump pushed Pence to sign on to a push by congressional Republicans to overturn the election results. Pence said that was not within his power.

“’You’re too honest,’” Pence said Trump told him. “‘Hundreds of thousands are gonna hate your guts. . . . People are gonna think you’re stupid.”

He also detailed a Jan. 4, 2021 meeting in the White House with Trump and his lawyer, John Eastman, in which Pence whittled down Eastman’s arguments about his power to unilaterally overthrow election results until the lawyer conceded, “Well, it’s never been tested in courts, so I think it is an open question.”

When Pence motioned to Trump, he noted the president did not seem to be paying attention and was dismissive of the vice president’s dismantling of Eastman’s arguments.

Pence aides and advisers have long said the former second-in-command to Trump would never reveal the private conversations both men had during their four or so years working together. But after months of sharing little of his feelings about the Capitol attack and Trump’s persistent targeting of him, Pence has been slowly revealing more and more, leading up to the publication of his memoir next week.

Just after the midterm elections Wednesday, Pence’s book excerpt was passed around between Republicans watching the fast-developing 2024 field.

The timing, said Indiana Republicans who spoke with Yahoo News, seemed perfect to capture Trump at his weakest moment and potentially elevate Pence as a 2024 prospect right as some Republicans are seeking an alternative to Trump for the GOP nomination.

In the excerpt, Pence delivered a gripping account of Jan. 6, including him jabbing his finger at his Secret Service detail and demanding they not leave the Capitol and that they walk calmly to a secure location, even as rioters bore down on Pence and his team.

And for the first time, Pence also detailed Trump’s surprisingly sheepish reaction to Pence days after the insurrection.

“I met with the president on Jan. 11. He looked tired, and his voice seemed fainter than usual,” Pence wrote. He then wrote that Trump asked about him and his family and if he had been “scared” on Jan. 6.

“No,” Pence said he replied. “I was angry. You and I had our differences that day, Mr. President, and seeing those people tearing up the Capitol infuriated me.”

Pence's book launch next week is already packed with plenty of chances for him to make news. He'll sit down for an interview withABC News anchor David Muir Monday night. And on Wednesday, Pence will be the subject of aCNN town hall hosted by anchor Jake Tapper. Pence is also expected to attend a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, and mingle with party mega-donors the weekend following his book launch.

It could also get a boost from Trump himself, who has repeatedly teased his formal launch of a 2024 bid for the White House. The latest tease-date for Trump’s formal launch is the same day as Pence’s publication day, Tuesday.