Justice Department asks Pence to answer questions in Jan. 6 probe


Justice Department prosecutors have asked former Vice President Mike Pence to answer questions as part of their sprawling investigation into the events of January 6, 2021 and efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The informal request came in recent weeksbefore last Friday, when Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special adviser to oversee aspects of the January 6 investigation as well as a separate investigation into former President Donald Trump’s possession of hundreds of classified documents in his home after leaving the presidency.

Pence hasn’t decided how to handle the request to answer questions about his interactions with Trump near the end of their time in the White House, a person briefed on the discussion said. The two people familiar with the matter spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations.

Pence has not received an official subpoena, one of the people said, describing talks with the Justice Department as being in the preliminary stages. The two people said the department has contacted Pence’s attorney, Emmet Flood, who is representing the former vice president in the case.

From Europe, Trump’s special counsel takes over Mar-a-Lago investigation, part of Jan. 6 probe

The New York Times was the first to report the Justice Department’s extraordinary request that the former vice president share his private conversations with his former running mate, president and de facto party leader, even as Trump launches a new campaign for the White House and that Pence is also considering a 2024 bid.

The Justice Department has already engaged in lengthy negotiations with other Trump advisers over interview requests, navigating matters of executive privilege. A request for Pence to relay sensitive conversations with the president could spark a new battle over this issue.

The decision to speak to Pence is an important step in the long investigation. Garland faced intense criticism in 2021 and early 2022 for appearing to be slow to investigate the role of Trump and his top aides in efforts to reverse the results of the presidential election. The department probe expanded in March to look at those who planned and financed the rally before the Capitol riot and to request the phone records of critical actors in the White House and Trump’s orbit, up to and including his chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Later this spring and summer, the Department of Justice searched for large amounts of additional informationincluding communications with several senior Trump advisers and dozens of others involved in efforts to offer fake pro-Trump voter lists in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona and other states won by the President Biden.

Pence aides, including chief of staff Marc Short, answered hours of questions before a Washington-based grand jury about Jan. 6, when a rioting crowd left a Trump rally and stormed the Capitol, as well as the events leading up to so far and Trump’s interactions with Pence and his team at the White House. Short appeared twice before the grand jury.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department is compiling witnesses and evidence in its investigation into the Mar-a-Lago documents, which focuses on the potential mishandling of highly classified information, the obstruction and destruction of government property. And in Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis (D) is leading a separate investigation into efforts by Trump and his allies to reverse the state’s election results.

Senator Lindsay Graham testified before the Georgia grand jury during the 2020 election inquiry

In interviews for his recent book, “so help me god“, Pence criticized Trump for actions that Pence said were “reckless” and “endangered” him, his family and everyone on Capitol Hill. In an ABC “World News Tonight” interview published Nov. 13, Pence called out Trump for his words inciting his supporters on Jan. 6 and for tweeting that his vice president didn’t have the courage to block certification and “do what should have been done.”

“I mean, the president’s words were reckless,” Pence said in a excerpt preview. “It was clear that he had decided to be part of the problem.” But Pence also said in another interview that speaking to the congressional committee investigating the events leading up to the Capitol attack — including Trump’s pressure on Pence — would undermine the separation of powers between branches of government.

Pence did not appear before the Jan. 6 committee and criticized its composition, even as some of his top aides appeared and he blessed their appearances, people familiar with the matter said.

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