Former Vice President Mike Pence has been ordered by a United States judge to testify about his conversations with former President Donald Trump leading up to the 2021 Capitol assault. Washington’s Chief Judge James Boasberg has ruled that Pence should provide answers to a federal grand jury regarding any question probing potential criminality by the then-president, except for his actions on the day of the insurrection itself, when he was serving as president of the Senate for the certification of the election.
The ruling, which remains under seal, is being considered a partial victory for the Justice Department as it probes the insurrection that was linked to several deaths, more than 100 police officers being wounded, and more than 1,000 arrests. Investigators are probing Trump’s role in provoking the violence on January 6, 2021, as part of a broader alleged effort to cling to power after losing the presidential election to Joe Biden.
While Trump is running for the White House again in 2024, Pence has indicated that he may challenge him for the Republican nomination. Both Pence and the government’s quasi-independent prosecutor, Special Counsel Jack Smith, can challenge the parts of the decision that didn’t go in their favor. However, neither has announced whether they intend to appeal, although Pence has previously vowed to fight his summons all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Pence and Trump have been at loggerheads since Pence refused to go along with Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. Section of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol called for Pence to be hanged, forcing him to flee. Pence has already described many of the relevant conversations with Trump in “So Help Me God,” a memoir published last year, but he refused to testify before a House committee that investigated the insurrection.
He had argued unsuccessfully that he was allowed to avoid giving evidence under the Constitution’s “Speech or Debate” clause, which shields officials in Congress from legal proceedings specifically related to their work. The judge also rejected a separate assertion by Trump of executive privilege, which protects aides from having to testify about certain conversations with presidents.
Both the offices of Trump and Pence have not immediately responded to requests for comment. Despite being the frontrunner by a considerable margin in the contest to be the Republican nominee in the 2024 presidential election, Trump faces legal jeopardy on several fronts, including a separate federal investigation into his handling of classified documents and probes into election interference in Georgia and a hush money payment in New York. He denies all wrongdoing, claiming to be the victim of a multi-pronged “witch hunt.”