A federal judge ruled that former Vice President Mike Pence will be required to testify in front of a grand jury in the Justice Department’s investigation into attempts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to reverse the results of the 2020 election.
However, sources said Pence would not have to answer questions about his actions on January 6, 2021, when supporters stormed the building while the former vice president presided over a joint Congress session to certify the vote.
Pence, along with his lawyers, had cited constitutional grounds when challenging the subpoena. They argued that because the former vice president was serving in his capacity presiding over the Senate that day, he was protected from being forced to testify under the “speech and debate” clause in the Constitution, which is meant to protect members of Congress from questioning official legislative acts.
Former Vice President Pence’s team is reviewing whether it will appeal.
The ruling, sealed by U.S. District Judge James “Jeb” Boasberg, sets up an uncommon scenario of a former vice president being bound to give possibly damaging testimony against the president he formerly served. It comes as Pence is moving closer to a possible announcement of a run for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, which would put him in competition with his former boss.
Earlier this year, Pence was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury in Washington that is investigating possible election interference.
Jack Smith, Justice Department special counsel, is investigating alleged attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Several Trump aides have already appeared before the grand jury and another panel examining the former president’s mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago club.
Pence’s advisers indicate he will challenge the subpoena
Days following the news of the subpoena, former V.P. Pence and his advisers indicated that he would challenge the subpoena under the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, which serves as a shield to lawmakers from specific law enforcement actions connected to their legislative duties.
“I am going to fight the Biden DOJ subpoena for me to appear before the grand jury because I believe it’s unconstitutional and unprecedented,” said Pence at a February event.
The court challenge has been playing out in secret, with very little information released publicly.
As he has publicly described them, Pence’s claims are seen as unique. His arguments have attracted attention and criticism from various legal scholars, including former Judge Michael Luttig. Luttig is a conservative legal mind who argued publicly that Pence should certify the election results.
Although the former vice president has vigorously fought against the subpoena, he has also refused to disrupt the congressional certification of now-President Joe Biden’s win. In contrast, former President Trump called upon him to do.