Judge orders Pence to testify about talks with Trump

() — A federal judge has ruled that former Vice President Mike Pence will have to testify before a grand jury about conversations he had with Donald Trump in the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, according to multiple sources familiar with a recent ruling.

But the judge said, in a ruling that is sealed, that Pence can decline to answer questions related to his actions on Jan. 6, when he was serving as Senate president for certification of the 2020 presidential election, according to one of the sources. .

Pence had fought in court to have certain constitutional protections applied to him. Although Chief Justice James Boasberg agreed that he could have that protection, under the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, Pence must still testify about interactions in which Trump may have acted corruptly, the source said. .

On the other hand, Trump failed to convince the judge that executive privilege should protect his conversations.

Boasberg ruled Monday, days after the Trump team, the Pence team and special counsel Jack Smith’s team sparred over Pence’s testimony. Pence was subpoenaed to testify earlier this year before the grand jury.

Pence still has a chance to appeal. Trump has repeatedly lost claims of executive privilege that he has sought to make in the special counsel’s investigation.

It’s another victory for special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating the Trump-aligned effort to subvert the 2020 election. Smith subpoenaed Pence to testify and produce documents earlier this year.

Days after news of the subpoena broke, Pence and his advisers indicated that the former vice president would challenge it under the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, which protects lawmakers from certain law enforcement actions related to his legislative duties.

“I am going to fight the Justice Department’s subpoena for Biden to appear before the grand jury because I believe it is unconstitutional and unprecedented,” Pence said at an event in February. Pence suggested that since he was also serving as president of the Senate during the Jan. 6 certification vote, the constitutional clause covered the conduct that investigators are examining.

The judicial challenge has been developed in secret, before Judge James Boasberg, recently appointed president of the federal district court for the city of Washington.

Pence’s claims, as he has publicly described them, are considered novel. His arguments drew criticism from a wide range of legal scholars, including former judge Michael Luttig, a conservative legal celebrity who advised Pence on how he should approach the 2021 certification vote.

Although Pence has fought the subpoena, he has remained steadfast in his refusal to halt Congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s victory, as requested by Trump.

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