On Thursday, former Vice President Mike Pence testified before a federal grand jury investigating then-President Donald Trump and his allies to attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The vice president’s appearance before the grand jury in Washington was a milestone in the Justice Department’s investigation and likely gave the prosecutors a crucial first-person account of specific events and conversations in the weeks before the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, incident at the U.S. Capitol. It carries vital political implications, as the former vice president hints at possibly gearing up for a potential run against Trump in the 2024 presidential race. Former President Trump is currently the GOP front-runner.
According to an anonymous source, the testimony came hours after a federal appeals court rejected a bid by Trump’s lawyers to block Pence’s appearance.
Vice President Pence was subpoenaed earlier in the year to testify; however, Trump’s lawyers objected and cited privilege concerns. In March, a judge refused to block Pence’s appearance. However, he sided with the claims of the former vice president that he could not be forced to answer questions about anything related to his role presiding over the Senate’s certification of votes on Jan. 6.
“We’ll obey the law, we’ll tell the truth,” said Pence in an interview with CBS News’s “Face the Nation” that aired on Sunday. “And the story that I’ve been telling the American people all across the country, the story that I wrote in the pages of my memoir, that’ll be the story I tell in that setting.”
It remains unclear what Pence may have told the grand jury; however, he is the most high-profile official from the Trump administration to be summoned to appear before the panel.
The vice president has spoken extensively about former President Trump’s pressure urging him to reject Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory in the days before Jan. 6, including mentioning it in his book, “So Help Me God.”
As vice president, Pence oversaw Congress’ county of the Electoral College vote but didn’t otherwise have the power to affect the results.
Pence: History will hold Trump “accountable”
Pence is the former governor of Indiana and a congressman and has said that Trump endangered everyone at the Capitol that day and that history will hold him “accountable.”
“For four years, we had a close working relationship. It did not end well,” wrote Pence, summing up their years in the White House.
Former President Trump was speaking in New Hampshire when news broke about the former vice president’s grand jury appearance. When asked in a diner if he was concerned about Pence’s testimony, Trump answered, “No, I’m not, and I don’t know anything about it.”
Pence’s lawyers raised their own narrow challenge to the subpoena. At the same time, electoral votes were being counted in Congress on Jan. 6. Therefore, he was protected from being forced to testify about the process under the “speech or debate” clause in the Constitution, which is intended to safeguard Congressional members from being questioned over official legislative acts. The attorneys argued Pence was serving in his role as president of the Senate.
The judge agreed with the lawyers’ assessment, which narrowed the scope of Pence’s expected testimony.
Jack Smith, the special counsel of the Justice Department leading the investigation, has cast a wide net in interviews and has sought the testimony of a lengthy list of former Trump aides, including former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former adviser Stephen Miller.
Smith is investigating Trump separately over the potential mishandling of hundreds of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Florida estate, along with possible efforts to obstruct the probe.
It is unclear who, if anyone, will be charged or when either counsel’s investigations will end.