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Mike Pence to testify against Trump ahead of January 6 grand jury


WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors investigating former President Donald Trump’s actions before and during his mob assault on the Capitol will have access to key evidence after his former vice president decided not to pursue appeals for avoid testifying.

Mike Pence’s aide Devin O’Malley said a judge’s ruling agreed with him on the key issue Pence objected to regarding his January 6 role himself as President of the Senate. “Having affirmed this principle of the Constitution, Vice President Pence will not appeal the judge’s decision and will comply with the subpoena as required by law,” O’Malley said.

Pence initially said he would fight his battle to overturn the grand jury subpoena to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. But a week ago he said he was ‘pleased’ James Boasberg, the Chief Judge of the US District Court in Washington, DC, accepted his argument that the ‘speak and debate clause’ of the Constitution applied to him in his role as President of the Senate.

Prosecutors’ primary interest in Pence’s testimony, however, is not in his dealings with members of Congress. Rather, it was in his interactions and conversations with Trump and his aides, which had been pushing him for weeks to use his role as president at the election certification ceremony on January 6, 2021, to award Trump a second term, even though he had lost his re-election bid to Democrat Joe Biden two months earlier.

Trump tried to claim “executive privilege” to prevent Pence from revealing the information, but Boasberg rejected that argument in his still-sealed ruling.

It’s unclear whether Trump will appeal Boasberg’s decision to block Pence from testifying. Trump’s staff did not immediately respond to a query from HuffPost, but his attorneys filed a similar appeal a week ago in an effort to bar other top White House officials, including the former chief of staff Mark Meadows, to have to answer questions before the grand jury. That appeal was dismissed on Tuesday.

Norm Eisen, a former White House attorney in the Obama administration who worked with House leaders on Trump’s first impeachment for extorting Ukraine, said Pence’s testimony would be “of the highest importance” for special counsel Jack Smith.

“He is a critical first-hand witness to Trump’s statements as the coup attempt evolved,” Eisen said. “The most important testimony Pence has to offer begins on Dec. 5, when Trump first broached the idea of ​​challenging the Electoral College with him, and continues through the remainder of this month and into Jan. 6. himself.”

While Boasberg’s ruling, according to Pence and others, says Pence isn’t required to reveal his interactions with members of Congress, that doesn’t stop him from discussing Trump and other US officials. executive.

“Pence will likely be required to testify about anything outside of his official congressional duties on the 6th, so all of those conversations will likely be up for grabs,” Eisen said.

Trump and his inner circle began planning to use fraudulent Trump “voter” lists long before the Electoral College convened on Dec. 14, 2020, to ratify Biden’s victory. Indeed, that very morning, Trump’s senior White House adviser, Stephen Miller, appeared on Fox News and bragged about how pro-Trump lists of “substitute” voters were being chosen as he was speaking so that Congress would have competing lists of key states, handing Trump allies. the opportunity to offer him a second term.

Trump and his aides began pressuring Pence to agree to the plan in early December and ramped up their efforts after Christmas, according to former advisers to Pence, and testimony revealed during House committee hearings on 6 January.

The pressure campaign culminated with Trump’s January 6 pre-insurgency speech near the White House, where he again called on Pence to do what he asked, even though Pence had previously told Trump that he had no constitutional authority to do so. That afternoon, Trump attacked Pence for not having the “courage” to do what Trump wanted, and his mob responded by storming the Capitol en masse.

Four of Trump’s supporters died on January 6, as did five police officers in the days and weeks that followed. Another 140 officers were injured and the Justice Department is prosecuting more than a thousand rioters, with at least hundreds more cases expected.

Despite this, Trump is running for president again and is currently leading his rivals for the GOP nomination in the polls. And while he first denounced those who committed violence on January 6, he has more recently embraced their actions and promised to forgive them if elected. At a recent rally, he even played a recording of Jan. 6 inmates — the vast majority charged with assaulting police officers — singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” intercut with Trump’s reading of the Pledge of Allegiance.

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