The revelation — in the second trial of a defendant charged in the Capitol attack — is the first time federal law enforcement has confirmed where Pence went after he was evacuated from the Senate chamber on Jan. 6.
A key point prosecutors struggled to prove in Monday’s trial was how rioters jeopardized the security perimeter around Pence, who was in Congress to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election on January 6.
“We took him to a safe place…underground,” Secret Service Inspector Lanelle Hawa testified. “It was in the loading dock,” which is located under the plaza on the Senate side of the building, she said.
Hawa said the loading dock counts as a restricted area, established for Electoral College certification, just like the Capitol grounds. When asked by prosecutors if Pence had ever left that restricted area, Hawa replied, “No.”
It’s an important distinction for the prosecution as Griffin, who joined the crowd on the Capitol Terrace, is charged with entering and remaining in a restricted area as well as disorderly and disruptive conduct.
Griffin’s legal defense team made it clear before trial that they wanted to ask about Pence’s location during the riot and the restricted area established for his visit – appearing to establish the argument that the area was no longer restricted because Pence left.
Days before the trial, McFadden allowed Griffin’s attorneys to cross-examine the Secret Service inspector on Pence’s whereabouts during the riot, writing that “Griffin must be allowed to test the veracity of the assertion of the government that Vice President Pence was on Capitol grounds during the relevant period.
After half an hour of questioning by Griffin’s attorney, Nicholas Smith, McFadden told Smith he had not established that Pence had left the restricted area.