WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court denied a request by former President Donald Trump’s lawyers to prevent former Vice President Mike Pence from testifying before a grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
It was unclear when Pence would appear before the grand jury, which has been investigating the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurgency at the US Capitol and efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the election decision for months. However, Pence’s testimony, which comes as he prepares to run for president in 2024, would be a watershed moment in the probe, providing prosecutors with a critical first-person account as they move on with their investigation.
The order from the three-judge panel of the US Circuit Court of Appeals was sealed, and no parties are named in online court records. However, the appeal in the sealed case was filed just days after a lower-court judge ordered Pence to testify against the Trump team’s objections.
A lawyer for Pence and a representative for Trump did not respond to requests for comment, and a spokesman for the Justice Department special counsel overseeing the probe declined to comment.
Pence was summoned to testify earlier this year, but Trump’s lawyers refused, citing executive privilege issues. In March, a judge refused to prohibit Trump’s presence, while he agreed with the former vice president’s constitutional grounds that he could not be forced to answer questions concerning his role as presiding over the Senate’s vote certification on Jan. 6.
“We’ll obey the law, and we’ll tell the truth,” Pence said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “And the story I’ve been telling the American people all across the country, the story I wrote in the pages of my memoir, that’ll be the story I tell in that setting.”
Pence has spoken extensively about Trump’s pressure campaign in the days running up to the election, particularly in his book “So Help Me God.” Pence, as vice president, had a ceremonial role overseeing Congress’ tabulation of the Electoral College vote, but he had no capacity to influence the outcome, despite Trump’s assertion.
Pence has stated that Trump put his family and everyone else in the Capitol that day in jeopardy, and that history will hold him “accountable.”
“We had a close working relationship for four years.” “It did not end well,” Pence wrote, summarizing their encounter in the Oval Office.
The investigation’s special counsel, Jack Smith, has conducted extensive interviews and requested the testimony of a long list of former Trump officials, including ex-White House attorney Pat Cipollone and senior adviser Stephen Miller.
Smith is also looking into Trump’s possible mishandling of hundreds of sensitive documents at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, as well as efforts to hinder the investigation.
It is unclear when either special counsel’s inquiry will conclude or who, if anyone, would be charged.