On Thursday, sources familiar with the matter told CNN that former Republican Vice President Mike Pence provided testimony to a federal grand jury as a part of an investigation into the aftermath of the 2020 election, as well as the conduct of then-President Donald Trump and other individuals. This testimony represents a significant turning point in the criminal inquiry, as it marks the first instance in modern history where a vice president has been compelled to provide testimony regarding the actions of a president they served alongside.
According to a source of knowledge, Mike Pence gave testimony over five hours. Although Marc Short, an adviser to Pence, didn’t explicitly confirm his appearance, he spoke about the legal disputes concerning the testimony. Short mentioned that Pence had his own case related to the Speech and Debate Clause and expressed satisfaction that a judge had acknowledged its applicability to the vice president. Furthermore, he noted that despite the legal back-and-forth, Pence was prepared to follow the law and comply with the court’s order to testify.
Testifying before a federal grand jury, former Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, provided insights into the attempts made by former President Donald Trump and his supporters to challenge the 2020 presidential election results.#MikePence #Pence #DonaldTrump #Trump pic.twitter.com/JvA76SQHzX
— News Live (@NewsLiveFree) April 28, 2023
Pence Testifies About Trump Conversations Ahead of January 6
Pence testified under oath about his direct conversation with Trump leading up to January 6, when a mob of the former president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. During a private phone call, Trump had repeatedly pressured Pence to block the results of the 2020 election, including on the morning of January 6. A federal judge had previously ruled that Pence could be compelled to recount conversations with Trump where the former president may have acted corruptly. Pence’s testimony comes when he considers a likely challenge to Donald Trump for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. However, his testimony will likely draw a strong adverse reaction from his former boss.
Pence has often spoken about his commitment to following the Constitution instead of carrying out Trump’s request on January 6, particularly during recent political appearances and a book tour. However, he had not previously given testimony under oath as part of any investigation. On Thursday morning, the grand jury in Washington, DC, which operates confidentially, convened just before 09:00 am E.T. At the same time, security measures were increased inside the courthouse, and two SUVs with tinted windows were seen transporting individuals to the building. A representative for special counsel Jack Smith’s office and a spokesperson for Pence both declined to comment on Thursday.
Court Battle for Republican Leaders
Pence was at the center of a court battle regarding special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s efforts to reverse the last presidential election results. Given his proximity to Trump at the White House, the investigation had long sought to question Pence under oath. However, Trump and Pence went to court to prevent his unprecedented subpoena. Despite their efforts, trial and appellate judges ruled that Pence must testify about his direct conversation with the former president. These rulings were consistent with several other court decisions that Trump had lost while attempting to prevent top officials from his administration from testifying.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals made the latest ruling on Wednesday night, denying Trump emergency assistance. As a result of the case, Pence is in an unprecedented position to clarify the powers of his former office. The court had even allowed Pence to keep his actions as the Senate’s presiding officer on January 6 out of criminal proceedings. Nevertheless, much of what special counsel Jack Smith’s team is investigating can be obtained through the grand jury.
Insights into Trump-Pence Communication Before Insurrection
Federal investigators are interested in Donald Trump’s conversations with Mike Pence in the days leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Although the former vice president refused to testify before the House select committee probing the insurrection, individuals in Trump’s inner circle provided the committee with details of a heated phone call between the two men on the day of the attack, during which Trump directed insults at his vice president. Although Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol seeking him out, Pence and Trump did not communicate during the attack, and Pence narrowly avoided the mob as they headed to the Senate floor.
Information regarding the conversations between Trump and Pence leading up to the Capitol riot has largely come from Pence’s memoir and testimonies in the House investigation. According to Nicholas Luna, a former special assistant to Trump, Trump referred to Pence as a “wimp” and regretted choosing him as his running mate. Additionally, Julie Radford, a former chief of staff to Ivanka Trump, reported that Ivanka mentioned her father had an uncomfortable conversation with Pence.
Pence Disclosed Several Public Statements
Radford claimed that she had been informed that Trump had used a derogatory term to refer to Pence, known as “the P-word.” In his memoir, Pence has disclosed many public statements regarding his discussions with Trump in the days leading up to and following the insurrection. According to the book, Trump informed him that he would incite the anger of hundreds of thousands of individuals because he was “too truthful” in an effort to overturn the outcomes of the 2020 election.
In his book, the former vice president recounted that he had asked his general counsel to brief him on the procedures of the Electoral Count Act after Trump mentioned challenging the election results in the House of Representatives for the first time during a phone call on December 5. On December 21, during lunch, Pence attempted to persuade Trump to follow the advice of the White House counsel’s team instead of external lawyers, but Trump rejected the proposal. Additionally, Pence revealed that on New Year’s Day, Trump called him and told him he was “too honest,” warning that his actions would make “hundreds of thousands” of people despise him and believe he was foolish.