DOJ Seeking to Question Pence in Jan. 6 Investigation
(Newsmax/"The Chris Salcedo Show"
By Brian Pfail | Wednesday, 23 November 2022 04:25 PM EST
The Justice Department is seeking to question former Vice President Mike Pence as a witness concerning the criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump's efforts to remain in power after losing the 2020 election, according to The New York Times.
According to people familiar with his thinking, Pence is open to considering the request.
Trump may invoke executive privilege to stop him or at least limit his testimony, which he has tried to do with other officials with limited success.
Pence is believed to have played a critical role as Trump and allies schemed to block the congressional certification of Joe Biden's victory. If Pence had any agreement, there might be legal and political consequences, especially since he is believed to be a 2024 Republican candidate.
Thomas Windom, one of the lead investigators, reached out to Pence's team in the weeks before Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee the Jan. 6 investigation and a separate inquiry into Trump's handling of classified materials.
Pence has not yet been subpoenaed, which could take months because Trump can block or slow his testimony by trying to invoke executive privilege.
Trump has used executive privilege to stop two of Pence's top aides: his former chief of staff, Marc Short, and his general counsel, Greg Jacob. Both men eventually returned for grand jury interviews behind a closed-door court proceeding.
Pence has been publicly critical of Trump's conduct in the run-up to Jan. 6. In interviews for the release of his new book, "So Help Me God," Pence has asserted that "Congress has no right to my testimony" about what he witnessed.
"There's profound separation-of-powers issues," Pence told The New York Times in an interview. "And it would be a terrible precedent."
Pence's testimony could be compelled by subpoeana, but none has been issued.
The former vice president is represented by Emmet Flood, a veteran Washington-based attorney who served as the lead Trump White House lawyer dealing with the Robert Mueller investigation into the Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy in 2016.
As part of the Justice Department's inquiry, an increasing number of high-ranking officials in the Trump administration are finding themselves as witnesses to various congressional and Justice Department investigations.
Pence is considering running for president in 2024. Biden's Justice Department seeks to use Pence as a potential witness against Trump, which could put them against each other as rivals. Pence has already detailed in his book Trump's efforts to stay in power and the pressure the campaign imposed upon him at the beginning of December 2020.
He describes one interaction in which Trump brought him to the Oval Office on Jan. 4, 2021 to meet with attorney John Eastman, who repeatedly argued that Pence could exceed the ceremonial duties of overseeing the Electoral College certification by Congress. Eastman was promoting the idea that Pence had the power to set aside the result from states where Trump was still trying to challenge the outcome.
Pence wrote that he told Trump he didn't have the authority. He stressed it in an interview with The Times.
"In the weeks before Jan. 6, I repeatedly told the president that I did not have the authority to reject or return electoral votes," Mr. Pence said in the interview. "It was clear he was getting different legal advice from an outside group of lawyers that, frankly, should have never been let in the building."
Trump pressured Pence and officials in Georgia to go along with the effort. He used his Twitter account to draw attention as well.
Trump addressed the crowd at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 and again pressured Pence, who had called a few hours earlier to persuade him to block the certification. At the Ellipse, Trump said, "You're never going to take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong."
The former president said, "So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do. And I hope he doesn't listen to the RINOs [Republicans in name only]."