Former Vice President of the United States Mike Pence has testified before a federal grand jury investigating efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, the court told The Associated Press a person familiar with the matter.
The person asked not to be named to discuss the grand jury’s special appearance.
Pence’s appearance in Washington, D.C. — scrutinizing the president he once served so faithfully — marks a significant milestone in the US Department of Justice’s investigation.
It likely gives prosecutors a key account of certain conversations and events in the weeks leading up to the deadly uprising at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. It also has important political implications, as Pence hints entering the 2024 presidential race with the possibility of a race against Trump, the Republican nominee.
The testimony came hours after a federal appeals court denied, in a closed order, an attempt by Trump’s attorneys to block Pence’s appearance.
Pence was called to testify earlier this year, but Trump’s lawyers objected, citing issues of executive privilege.
Pence’s attorneys elevated their narrow challenge to a subpoena.
They argued that because Pence held the position of President of the Senate during the counting of electoral votes for Congress, he was immune from being forced to testify about the process. The lawyers cited the “speak or debate” clause in the US Constitution, which is intended to shield members of Congress from questions about formal legislative acts.
In March, a judge refused to block Pence’s appearance, even though he sided with the former vice president’s constitutional claims that he could not be forced to answer questions about anything related to his role as Senate president in certifying votes on Jan. 6. .
“We’re going to abide by the law and we’re going to tell the truth,” Pence said in an interview with “Face the Nation,” which airs Sunday. “And the story I tell the American people across the country, the story I wrote in the pages of my magazine, will be the story I tell here.”
Pence has spoken at length about Trump’s lobbying campaign, urging him to reject Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory in the days leading up to Jan. 6, including in his book So God Help Me.
Pence, as vice president, had a ceremonial role in overseeing the Electoral College vote count in Congress, but had no power to influence the results, despite Trump’s claims to the contrary.
Pence, a former governor and congressman from Indiana, said Trump endangered his family and anyone else who was on Capitol Hill that day and that history will hold him accountable.
“For four years we had a close working relationship,” Pence wrote, summing up his time in the White House.
The Justice Department special counsel leading the investigation, Jack Smith, has cast a wide net in interviews and sought testimony from a long list of former Trump aides, including former Trump White House attorney Pat Cipollone and former counsel Stephen Miller.
Smith is separately investigating Trump over possible mishandling of hundreds of classified documents at his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, as well as potential efforts to derail that investigation.
On Wednesday, Trump’s attorneys in that investigation called the Justice Department’s investigation “extremely dirty” and “politically tainted.”
They urged the House Intelligence Committee to step in by holding hearings and introducing legislation to overhaul procedures for handling classified documents in the White House and standardize procedures for presidents and vice presidents when they leave their jobs.
“The Department of Justice should be ordered to step down, and the intelligence community should instead conduct a proper investigation and report fully to this committee, as well as to your counterparts in the Senate,” the lawyers wrote.
It’s not clear when any of the private attorneys’ investigations will end or who, if anything, will be charged.