Former Vice President Mike Pence was allegedly contacted by the US Justice Department that wants him to testify in the criminal investigation into former president Donald Trump and allies’ efforts to impede the transfer of power and overturn the 2020 election results, a person familiar with the matter says.
DOJ prosecutors have reached out to Pence’s representatives to seek his testimony and Pence, recognizing that the DOJ’s criminal investigation is different from the House Jan. 6 committee’s inquiry – whose overtures he has flatly rejected – reportedly suggested he was open to discussing a possible agreement to provide some testimony.
Per the reports, the request made by the lead investigator examining the efforts to overturn the election, Thomas Windom, reached Pence’s team before Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel on Friday to oversee the probe into Trump’s potential mishandling of classified national security documents and a separate investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
It is still unclear if and how will the appointment of the special counsel Jack Smith affect the discussions between the DOJ and Pence’s team.
If Pence is unwilling to testify before a federal grand jury, DOJ could compel his cooperation with a subpoena unlike in the congressional investigation he has panned. The former VP, however, has allowed top aides to provide testimony in the House’s probe, and in the DOJ’s criminal investigation.
If he is willing to testify, however, it will remain to be seen if former President Trump would try to stop him or limit his testimony by invoking executive privilege – something he has done with limited success so far with other former officials- which can potentially prompt of legal wrangling – that can drag for months- over what Pence is allowed to divulge.
In significant court victories that could make it more likely the criminal investigation reaches further into Trump’s inner circle, the DOJ has already successfully secured answers from top Pence advisers Greg Jacob and Marc Short.