In a new memoir titled “So Help Me God,” released Tuesday, former Vice President Mike Pence reflects on his decision to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election and how he felt during the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol Building. 

He also shares insights into Trump’s decision not to nominate Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney as secretary of state after their now-infamous meeting over dinner, and describes his relationship with former Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake. The two became close friends during their years together in Congress. Pence also relates what he did in Salt Lake City to help calm his nerves before his 2020 debate with Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Any criticism Pence makes of Trump in the book is muted, perhaps because he still hopes to captures some of the pro-Trump vote if he decides to run for president in 2024. Much of the memoir is dedicated to Pence’s religious faith and how it informed his public service.

Pence opens his memoir by saying, “I had always been loyal to President Donald Trump … but today things had to be different.” He was referring to his decision to defy Trump and preside over the certification of the 2020 presidential election, which he and Trump had just lost to the Biden-Harris ticket.

Pence writes that he told Trump that his oath to uphold the Constitution took precedence over their friendship and political ambitions. Above all, his belief in his duty to God and country, Pence says, “reminded me that you ‘keep your oath, even when it hurts.’”

In his book, Pence describes the Secret Service hurriedly rushing him off the Senate floor as rioters stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. His refusal to abandon the building left him, his staff and security detail no choice but to huddle in the Capitol’s garage. Some rioters ransacked the Capitol and were reportedly chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!”

A few days later, Pence writes, he met with Trump in the Oval Office. He says he noticed a hint of regret and said the president seemed fatigued. “How are you,” Trump asked Pence. “Were you scared?” “No,” Pence said in reply. “I was angry. You and I had our differences that day, Mr. President, and seeing those people tearing up the Capitol infuriated me,” Pence says he told Trump.  

Trust had been broken between the two, but the last day Pence talked with Trump at the White House he told the president he was praying for him. It’s not clear if the two are still in communication.

In a nod to his deep religious faith — Pence is an evangelical, born-again Christian — Pence begins each chapter of his book with a scripture reference. In the chapter that describes the pressure Trump put on Pence to upend the 2020 presidential election, Pence chose, “Stand firm. Let nothing move you,” from 1 Corinthians 15:58. He regularly and often cites his faith in God as explanations for decisions he made while in office and throughout his life, including during his time as a congressman, as governor of Indiana and then as vice president.

During his time in the Trump administration, his religious background helped him build bridges to people of faith who otherwise might have been turned off by Trump. Pence says he was the one who coordinated the dinner between then president-elect Trump and Mitt Romney to discuss the possibility of Romney serving as secretary of state, and said that Trump was “intrigued by the idea of working with Romney.”

Pence says he met with Romney late in 2016 while campaigning in Utah and felt he was “a good, public-spirited man with a servant’s heart.” He does not say why Trump chose not to go with Romney for the position, but says Trump took Romney’s candidacy seriously and “despite what some pundits assume, never dangled the job in front of him out of spite.” 

Other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also made an impact on Pence during his political career. While in Congress in the early 2000s, Pence became friends with like-minded conservative Congressman Jeff Flake, who he says was also committed to limited government as well as his faith. Flake became one of his closest friends, he writes. The two congressmen shared a similar background and, Pence wrote, “found common cause — or distress — over our party’s drift into big-government Republicanism.” 

Pence says he and Flake considered themselves “conservative rebels,” and jokingly referred to themselves as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — although Pence said they were more in line with the characters in Robert Redford’s 1969 film who have a shoot out with the Bolivian army than with the actual outlaws. When a tough vote required them to vote against Republican leadership, Pence said they would look at each other and say, “‘Looks like we are going to Bolivia.’ Two cheerful warriors, going out in a blaze of glory.”

On one of his first trips after being named as the vice presidential nominee by Trump, Pence says he visited Flake and Sen. John McCain. He and Flake were still good friends, he writes, “but Jeff couldn’t support Trump… A devout Mormon, he objected to Trump’s blunt style. He said he would support me but not Trump. I wasn’t running for president, though. I don’t think he ever really gave Trump a chance.”

In his book, Pence also describes his visit to Salt Lake City in 2020, when he debated Harris in the run-up to the election. Pence says he climbed Ensign Peak with his family to calm his nerves on the day before the debate, which was held at Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus.

Although nervous at first, he says he felt he found his rhythm and was satisfied with his debate performance. But when he walked off-stage his family asked him if he had seen the fly. A large fly had landed on Pence’s head during the debate, standing out in stark contrast against his white hair. Pence said he hadn’t noticed, but the images from the debate of the fly on his hair became an internet meme that followed him around the rest of the campaign. 

Pence muses in the memoir, “Someday in glory, after I thank God for all my blessings, I intend to ask Him, ’The fly, was that really necessary?’”