Judge orders Pence to testify in special counsel probe into Trump

WASHINGTON — A federal judge has ordered former Vice President Mike Pence to comply with a subpoena in the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to a source familiar with the decision.

The ruling from Judge James Boasberg, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, requires Pence to testify before the grand jury tied to the probe led by special counsel Jack Smith.

The ruling was issued Monday but remains under seal because it involves grand jury matters. The judge’s order gave Pence a partial victory regarding his argument that he was shielded from having to testify about Jan. 6 because of his constitutional role as part of the legislative branch.

Pence’s team has argued that the “speech or debate clause” of the Constitution, which can protect lawmakers from being compelled to discuss legislative activity, granted him immunity from testifying. Boasberg ruled that while Pence does have some limited protections because of that, the immunity does not prevent him from testifying about conversations related to alleged “illegality” on Trump’s part.

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Oct 19, 2022 in Washington, DC.Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

Trump’s legal team had separately made wholesale objections to Smith’s subpoena on executive privilege grounds — claims which Boasberg completely rejected Monday.

Smith, whom Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed to lead the investigation in November, issued the subpoena of Pence in February. Pence vowed to fight it, saying “no vice president has ever been subject to a subpoena to testify about the president with whom they served.”

Pence previously said he would take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary. He told ABC News this month he wasn’t asserting executive privilege over conversations unrelated to his duties on Jan. 6.

It’s unclear whether Pence plans to appeal Boasberg’s Monday ruling. Spokespeople for Pence and the Department of Justice declined to comment on the judge’s ruling.

“We’re evaluating the court’s decision,” Pence said in an interview with Newsmax’s Greta Van Susteren, who also asked about his 2024 plans. Pence indicated he would make a decision in “the spring or early summer.”

“I expect we won’t get out of spring without Karen and I having a clear sense of our calling,” he said, referring to his wife. Pence last month told NBC News he would make a decision “by the spring.”

Boasberg’s ruling on executive privilege marks another victory for the special counsel’s team, which persuaded another federal judge earlier this month that a number of Trump’s former administration officials — including Dan Scavino, Stephen Miller, Robert O’Brien, John Ratcliffe, Ken Cuccinelli, and John McEntee — must also testify. Trump is expected to appeal that ruling. It was not immediately clear whether he plans to appeal Boasberg’s decision on Pence as well.

In response to the ruling, a Trump spokesman said, “The DOJ is continuously stepping far outside the standard norms in attempting to destroy the long-accepted, long-held, constitutionally based standards of attorney-client privilege and executive privilege.”

“There is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump,” the spokesman said.

Garrett Haake, Michael Kosnar and Zoë Richards contributed.

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