Washington – A federal judge in Washington, DC, has ruled that former Vice President Mike Pence must testify before a grand jury about former President Donald Trump’s bid to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, three people confirmed to CBS News.
Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to stop presidential transfers of power after the 2020 election, issued a subpoena For Pence’s testimony before a grand jury in February. But the former Vice President He vowed to resist The request says he is protected from questioning by prosecutors under the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause.
The rule states that members of the Legislature “shall not be questioned in any other place” for “any speech or debate” in either house. Pence’s argument stems from his role as president of the Senate, a position held by the vice president.
Trump tried to block Pence’s testimony, asserting executive privilege.
Sources told CBS News that Chief Judge James Bosberg of the U.S. District Court in Washington, which oversees the grand jury, rejected Trump’s claims of executive privilege, saying they did not apply to Pence’s potential testimony.
But Boasberg found the speech or debate rule shielding Pence from testifying, especially in congressional matters related to the events of January 6, 2021, even if he would have to testify about any illegal actions by Trump.
The likelihood that Pence will be tried by federal prosecutors before a grand jury is unclear. Boasberg’s judgment remains under seal.
Pence may appeal the decision, he said Newsmax In an interview Tuesday, he and his attorneys said they were “evaluating the court’s decision.” He said he was “pleased that for the first time in history, a judge has recognized that constitutional rules of speech and debate apply to the vice president when someone serves as president of the Senate.” And, “We’re currently reviewing how and what other evidence they might need, but look, I — let’s be clear — I have nothing to hide. I have a constitution to uphold. I supported the constitution on January 6.” Pence said he would “make a decision in the coming days.”
The former vice president has vowed in the past to take his legal fight against the subpoena, which he called “unprecedented” and “unconstitutional,” to the Supreme Court. NBC News The verdict was announced first.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
The decision comes days after lawyers for Trump, Pence and the Justice Department appeared in U.S. District Court in Washington on Thursday. Anticipated Inquiry As to whether to comply with former Vice President Smith’s subpoena.
Appointed in November by Attorney General Merrick Garland, Smith is leading two Justice Department investigations involving Trump, including efforts surrounding the 2020 presidential election and efforts to interfere with the counting of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, 2021.
Pence presided over a joint session of Congress on January 6, when lawmakers counted state election votes to confirm President Biden’s victory. According to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, his role in the vote count made Pence a target of Trump’s campaign to alter the election results. Major Battleground States. However, Pence did not bow to Trump’s pressure.
A joint session on January 6 was disrupted when mobs of Trump supporters broke into the US Capitol building, and Pence was moved to a safe location by the Secret Service.
He is the first Condemned Trump’s rhetoric surrounding the 2020 election, he told an audience of politicians and journalists this month that “history will hold Donald Trump accountable for his actions.”
Aaron Navarro contributed to this report.