A federal criminal investigation examining Donald Trump’s actions and those of others after the 2020 US election has received a boost following a decision by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. The court has rejected an emergency attempt by the former president to block former vice president Mike Pence from testifying about their direct conversations.
Trump had repeatedly tried to prevent some answers from witnesses close to him in the investigation, but the latest order is likely to result in Pence’s grand jury testimony occurring soon. This would be an unprecedented development in modern presidential history.
Judges Patricia Millett, Robert Wilkins, and Greg Katsas made the decision in a sealed case on Wednesday night. No dissents were noted on the public docket. Trump had sought to prevent Pence from testifying about their direct communications, even after the former vice president wrote about some of those exchanges and a lower court had ruled against him.
While Trump could appeal again and press the issue at the Supreme Court, he had previously given up pushing several past executive privilege challenges to the special counsel’s investigation after similar rulings from this court of appeals. Meanwhile, Pence has already said he was not appealing part of a lower court’s decision and would comply with the subpoena.
Investigations into the Capitol riot have been focusing on Trump’s conversations with Pence in the days surrounding the event. Pence wrote in his book that Trump called him a “wimp” on a call the morning of the insurrection.
Judge James Boasberg of the DC District Court has acknowledged that Pence could have some congressional protections during the time he served as president of the Senate on January 6, 2021, but this does not appear to prevent him from answering questions before the grand jury about his conversations with Trump from Election Day onward.