Trump can’t block Pence’s Jan. 6 grand jury testimony: court


WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday night brought former Vice President Mike Pence closer to appearing before a grand jury investigating efforts to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election and has turned down an offer from attorneys former President Donald Trump to block the testimony.

It wasn’t immediately clear what day Pence might appear before the grand jury, which has been investigating the incidents for months January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot and efforts by Trump and his allies to undermine the election result. But Pence’s statement comes as he nears a likely entrance the 2024 presidential racewould be a milestone in the investigation and would likely provide prosecutors with an important first-hand account as they advance their investigation.

The decision of the three-judge panel of the US Circuit Court of Appeals was sealed, and neither party is named in the online court filings. But the appeal in the sealed case came just days after a lower court judge ordered Pence to testify over objections by the Trump team.

An attorney for Pence and a spokesman for Trump did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment, and a spokesman for the Justice Department’s special counsel leading the investigation declined to comment.

The appeal was decided by Justice Gregory Katsas, a Trump-appointed judge, and Justices Patricia Millett and Gregory Wilkins, both appointed by former President Barack Obama. It wasn’t clear if Trump’s attorneys could ask the full Court of Appeals to hear the matter.

Pence was subpoenaed to testify earlier this year, but lawyers for Trump protested, citing concerns about executive privilege. A judges in March refused to block Trump’s appearance, although he sided with the former vice president’s constitutional claims that he could not be compelled to answer questions about anything related to his role as chair of the Jan. 6 Senate ballot certificate.

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A spokesman for Pence said afterwards that the former Vice President would not appeal and that his arguments about the speech or debate clause of the Constitution, designed to protect members of Congress from being questioned about official acts of legislation, have been upheld.

“We will obey the law, we will speak the truth,” Pence said in an interview with CBS News’ Face the Nation that aired Sunday. “And the story that I tell to Americans across the country, the story that I wrote in the pages of my memoir, that’s going to be the story that I tell in that environment.”

Pence has spoken at length about Trump’s pressure campaign urging him to reject Biden’s victory in the days leading up to Jan. 6, including in his book “May God help me.” Pence had a ceremonial role as vice president in overseeing Congress’ counting of Electoral College votes, but had no authority to influence the results, despite Trump’s claims to the contrary.

Pence has said Trump endangered his family and everyone else who was in the Capitol that day and history will “hold him accountable.”

“We worked closely together for four years. It didn’t end well,” Pence wrote, summarizing her time in the White House.

The special counsel leading the investigation, Jack Smith, has cast a wide net in interviews and solicited testimony from a long list of former Trump aides, including former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and former adviser Stephen Miller.

Smith is separately investigating Trump over the potential misuse of hundreds of classified documents at his Florida property, Mar-a-Lago, and possible efforts to obstruct this investigation. On Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers in that investigation called the Justice Department’s investigation “badly botched” and “politically infected” and called on the House Intelligence Committee to step in by holding hearings and introducing legislation to change the procedures for handling classified documents in the White House to correct and standardize procedures for presidents and vice presidents after leaving office.

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“The DOJ should be ordered to withdraw, and intelligence agencies should instead conduct an appropriate investigation and provide a full report to this committee and your Senate colleagues,” the attorneys wrote.

It’s not clear when the Special Counsel’s investigation will end or who, if anyone, will be charged.

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