Special counsel investigating Trump subpoenas Pence. According to sources, former Vice President Mike Pence was subpoenaed by the special counsel investigating Donald Trump and his conduct on January 6, 2021.
According to the source, the office of special counsel Jack Smith is requesting evidence and witness statements concerning the events of January 6. A hearing has been scheduled for the former vice president to discuss his conversations with Trump leading up to the 2020 election and on the day of the attack on the US Capitol.
The subpoena is a significant step forward in the two-year criminal investigation by the Justice Department, now overseen by the special counsel, into Trump and his allies’ efforts to obstruct the transition of power after he lost the 2020 election. Since Pence, a key witness, has written a biography outlining his conversations with Trump in the weeks following the election, the Justice Department may now be able to overturn at least some of Trump’s claims of executive privilege.
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Attorney Emmet Flood has a reputation as a hawk on presidential privilege. Those in the know have speculated that Pence will use it to withhold some specifics of his conversations with Trump. Depending on Trump’s answers, prosecutors may seek to waive his executive privilege so that he must answer further questions.
According to CNN’s reporting, months of talks preceded the subpoena of the ex-vice president.
According to those who know the situation, prosecutors with the Justice Department had contacted Pence’s lawyers to request his testimony in the criminal investigation. According to one source, Pence’s staff had previously signaled that they were willing to negotiate an agreement with the DOJ in which Pence would testify.
It was before the agency selected Smith to handle two investigations involving Trump: one regarding the inauguration on January 6 and another into the possible mishandling of personal items discovered at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
After losing the election to President Joe Biden, Donald Trump attempted to overturn the results. Pence’s memoir, published in November, details some of his interactions with Trump during this time. According to sources close to Pence, he and his team anticipated questions from the Justice Department about such interactions when the book came out.
Vice President Pence refused to be interviewed by the House select committee looking into the January 6 uprising. Still, he did allow his senior advisers to testify for the committee and the Justice Department’s criminal inquiry. The DOJ successfully acquired answers from key Pence advisers Greg Jacob and Marc Short in significant court victories that might make it more probable the criminal investigation goes further into Trump’s closest circle.
According to a person with knowledge of Trump’s legal team’s thinking, there are currently no plans to contest the grand jury subpoena of Pence. Even if Pence doesn’t give the grand jury details of their conversations, Trump could use executive privilege to hide what they discussed.
Chief Judge Beryl Howell ruled that Pence’s deputies and two White House counsel’s office attorneys must answer questions they initially refused to answer due to confidentiality around the presidency. Trump’s team has so far lost those appeals.
When Howell’s term as chief judge of the DC District Court ends in the middle of March, the ongoing grand jury inquiry may be assigned to a different federal judge, James Boasberg.
On Thursday morning, citing a source familiar with the situation, Smith had subpoenaed former Trump national security adviser Robert O’Brien in connection with both investigations into Trump. According to the source, O’Brien has refused to give some of the material prosecutors are seeking from him on the grounds of executive privilege.
Two sources with knowledge of the situation have confirmed that Trump’s former acting DHS secretary has been interviewed separately by Justice Department lawyers as part of the examination into 2020 election influence.
One of the sources said that the first move for prosecutors was to interrogate former acting secretary Chad Wolf under oath by Justice Department lawyers and FBI officers rather than having him go before a federal grand jury.