Trump On Jan 6: If Pence ‘does the right thing, we win’
Former vice president Mike Pence will not appeal a judge’s ruling that requires him to testify in front of a grand jury exploring the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, a spokesman said Thursday, likely setting up a pivotal moment in the special counsel investigation related to former president Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Pence’s decision to drop the appeal means he will probably testify under oath about Trump’s attempts to pressure him, and he could be a key witness. Trump and his team could still appeal the ruling, but they have lost similar cases previously.
The decision comes as Trump is actively pursuing the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and ahead of an expected bid by Pence to challenge him. Pence’s testimony could add to Trump’s mounting legal exposure as the nominating process unfolds.
Trump and Pence had both challenged the subpoena — but on entirely distinct grounds. Trump contended that his conversations with Pence in the weeks preceding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol should be shielded by investigators because of executive privilege, which is intended to preserve the confidentiality of some presidential communications. Trump has lost a series of sealed executive privilege fights in recent months, failing to convince federal district and appellate judges to support his privilege assertions.
Pence, however, had argued that the subpoena for his testimony was problematic for a different reason: his role as president of the Senate. The Constitution, he argued, makes the vice president a hybrid creature of the executive and legislative branch. Pence’s role on Jan. 6 — to preside over Congress’ counting of electoral votes — fell squarely within his congressional duties, entitling him to the protection of the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause, which protects lawmakers from criminal inquiries that pertain to their official responsibilities.
Trump may still opt to appeal Judge Boasberg’s ruling that executive privilege does not block Pence’s testimony.