Chris Lieberman, FISM News
Special counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed former vice president Mike Pence to testify about the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as part of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) ongoing investigation into former president Donald Trump, according to sources familiar with the matter as first reported by ABC News.
Pence has become one of the central figures in the DOJ’s Jan. 6 investigation. As vice president, Pence presided that day over the Senate’s certification of the electoral votes that would confirm Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Trump had pushed Pence not to certify the vote in a final attempt to reverse the outcome, but Pence refused, stating that he did not believe he had the constitutional authority to do so.
Smith is now seeking documents and testimony from Pence to determine whether or not Trump committed a crime in his attempt to overturn the election. The subpoena of Pence indicates that the two-year-old DOJ investigation is escalating to members of Trump’s inner circle.
Smith was appointed as special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland last November, following Trump’s announcement that he will seek the 2024 Republican nomination for president. Smith is currently overseeing two Justice Department investigations into the former president: one related to his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election, and another concerning his handling of classified documents found at his home in Mar-a-Lago.
The subpoena comes after several months of negotiations between the DOJ and Pence’s legal team. Pence’s representatives had previously indicated that the former vice president was willing to meet with investigators.
However, it is expected that there will be some limits as to what Pence is willing to testify, with the possibility of the former vice president invoking executive privilege to shield himself from answering certain questions. This could lead to a lengthy court battle, with investigators asking a judge to compel testimony. At this point, it is unclear whether and to what extent Pence intends to assert executive privilege.
Trump has previously tried to assert executive privilege to block others from testifying against him in the investigation, but his requests have so far been rejected in court.
Pence detailed several of his interactions with Trump on Jan. 6 in his recently-released memoir, revealing how he urged the president not to attempt to change the outcome of the election. Pence acknowledged that the memoir made it increasingly likely that the DOJ would seek his testimony.
Part of the memoir was published in a Wall Street Journal editorial last November retelling the events leading up to Jan. 6, including a conversation two days before between Pence, Trump, several top aides, and legal scholar John Eastman.
When Eastman admitted that his plan for Pence not to certify the election was on shaky legal ground, Pence said, “Mr. President, did you hear that? Even your lawyer doesn’t think I have the authority to return electoral votes.”
The vice president also has his own legal concerns after classified documents were found at his Indiana home last month and removed by the FBI.
Many speculate that Pence may be looking to launch his own bid for the Republican nomination for president. In a YouGov poll taken earlier this month, Pence had 8% support among likely GOP voters, trailing Trump at 26% and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 18%.