The Justice Department wants to question Mike Pence as a witness in its investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to stay in the White House after he lost the 2020 election.
Pence is considering the request, The New York Times reported. The former vice president has refused to cooperate with the special House committee investigating the January 6th insurrection but he sees the DoJ criminal investigation as another matter, officials close to him told the newspaper.
Trump would likely try and invoke executive privilege to stop Pence or limit his testimony. The former president has invoked the privilege with other former officials with limited success.
Pence would be the highest-ranking official investigators spoke to during the probe of Trump’s actions. He was present for many meetings and conversations in which Trump and his allies are charged with trying to keep the former president in office and nullify Joe Biden’s victory.
He also was under heavy pressure from Trump not to recognize the electoral college count on January 6th, which Pence was overseeing in a ceremonial role as vice president.
The request occurred before the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to oversee the Trump investigations – both January 6th and having classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, CNN reported.
It’s unclear how special counsel Jack Smith’s appointment will affect the request. The Justice Department has not subpoenaed Pence.
Mike Pence on January 6th: The Justice Department wants to question Mike Pence as a witness in its investigation into Donald Trump ‘s efforts to stay in the White House
Donald Trump addresses his supporters outside the White House on January 6th
MAGA supporters swarm the Capitol on January 6th
Pence and Trump spoke on the phone on the morning of January 6th. The details of that conversation have never been completely revealed.
Pence was in the vice president’s residence when the call came in, his former aides said. He then left the room and was out of earshot for 15 to 20 minutes.
Those Pence aides told the January 6th committee that Pence never disclosed to them the contents of the conversation, Politico reported, nor did Pence say how he replied to Trump’s last-minute pressure campaign.
Trump, officials testified to the committee, had a theory on how to nullify the election results.
He wanted Pence to send the election back to a handful of GOP-controlled state legislatures to appoint new presidential electors.
‘You can either go down in history as a patriot,’ Trump told Pence, The New York Times reported, ‘or you can go down in history as a p****.’
Pence, who in the middle of a book tour, is considering a run for the GOP nomination for president.
Trump would likely fight any efforts of Pence’s to testify – as he did with two former top Pence aides: former Pence chief of staff Marc Short and Pence general counsel Greg Jacob.
Eventually it was ruled both men could testify – and did so in closed door grand jury proceedings – but the process to get their testimony was a long one given Trump’s legal maneuvers to try and stop it.
Pence, 63, was on Capitol Hill in his ceremonial role of overseeing the electoral college count to certify the 2020 presidential election on January 6th, 2021.
When rioters entered the Capitol, Secret Service agents removed Pence from the Senate floor. He was eventually taken to a loading dock in one of the garages.
The mob of MAGA supporters erected a gallows with a noose outside the building, and Pence was at one point only 40 feet from the invaders.
Chants of ‘Hang Mike Pence’ were heard from the rioters.
Pence told ABC News that the situation with Trump made him ‘angry.’
He was a loyal lieutenant to Trump during their four years in office and repeatedly told Trump he did not have constitutional authority to change the electoral college results.
Pence also told ABC News that only Trump could answer why the then-president wasn’t making phone calls to security officials during the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol.
The former vice president told ABC’s David Muir that he was at the Capitol during that time so he couldn’t say what Trump, who was at the White House, was doing.
‘I was at the Capitol. I wasn’t at the White House,’ Pence said in the interview with ABC News. ‘I can’t account for what the president was doing that day. I was at a loading dock in the Capitol where a riot was taking place.’
Pence is seen during the January 6 riot, with his daughter Charlotte, 29
Rioters erected a gallows outside the Capitol and were chanting: ‘Hang Mike Pence’
In his memoir, excerpts of which were published the day after the midterm elections by The Wall Street Journal, Pence tells how he was taken from the Senate chamber by his protection detail.
He said the Secret Service were urging him to leave the building, but he refused – not wanting to be seen speeding away in his motorcade and giving the rioters any sense of victory.
‘We walked out into the hall slowly. All around us was a blur of motion and chaos: security and police officers directing people to safety, staffers shouting and running for shelter. I heard footsteps and angry chanting,’ Pence wrote.
‘Making our way to the basement of the Capitol took a few extra minutes because I insisted that we walk, not run.
‘The Secret Service team grudgingly accommodated me.’
He described how his assistant showed him Trump’s tweet, accusing Pence of cowardice in not overturning the election.
Trump had tweeted: ‘Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!’
He said that he met with Trump on January 11.
‘He looked tired, and his voice seemed fainter than usual. ‘How are you?’ he began. ‘How are Karen and Charlotte?’
‘I replied tersely that we were fine and told him that they had been at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
‘He responded with a hint of regret, ‘I just learned that.’ He then asked, ‘Were you scared?’
”No,’ I replied, ‘I was angry. You and I had our differences that day, Mr. President, and seeing those people tearing up the Capitol infuriated me.’
‘He started to bring up the election, saying that people were angry, but his voice trailed off.
‘I told him he had to set that aside, and he responded quietly, ‘Yeah.”
Pence then described speaking to Trump on January 14, after his second impeachment.
‘He seemed discouraged, so I reminded him that I was praying for him.
‘Don’t bother,’ he said.’