Speed Reads

Ghosts of 2020

Pence agrees to testify about Trump in federal special counsel investigation, with certain limits

Former Vice President Mike Pence will not appeal a federal judge's ruling that he must testify before a federal grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump's efforts to stay in office despite losing the 2020 election, a Pence spokesman said Wednesday. That means Pence will likely testify under oath in the coming weeks, potentially providing Special Counsel Jack Smith's investigators crucial information about Trump's actions and mindset leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, siege of the Capitol, while Pence was overseeing the congressional certification of President Biden's electoral victory.

Pence will not, however, be compelled to testify about his actions on Jan. 6 as they pertain to his ceremonial role as president of the Senate. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled last week that, as Pence's team had argued, vice presidents do have some congressional immunity from being questioned under the Constitution's "speech and debate" clause, due to their role as Senate president. "He must still testify about any illegal acts by Trump," CBS News notes

"Pence allies say Baosberg's decision was narrower than they preferred — opening Pence up to questions about his legislative duties they had hoped would be shielded — but they have largely treated it as a victory on the principle Pence set out to defend," Politico reports

"Having vindicated that principle of the Constitution," Pence spokesman Devin O'Malley said in a statement, "Vice President Pence will not appeal the judge's ruling and will comply with the subpoena as required by law."

Trump's team had objected to Pence's testimony on different grounds, arguing their discussions were projected by executive privilege. Boasberg rejected that argument last week. "Trump and his team could still appeal the ruling, but they have lost similar cases previously," The Associated Press reports.