Trump can’t stop Pence from testifying before January 6 Grand Jury, Court Rules

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A federal appeals court on Wednesday night rejected an emergency attempt by former President Donald J. Trump to bar former Vice President Mike Pence from testifying before a grand jury investigating Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

The 11 a.m. ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia cleared the way for Mr. Pence to appear before the federal grand jury as early as this week.

Mr. Pence has always been a potentially key witness in the investigation because of conversations he participated in at the White House in the weeks leading up to the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. During that time, Mr. Trump has repeatedly urged Mr. Pence to use his ceremonial role as overseer of the electoral college vote count in Congress to block or delay the certification of his defeat.

Prosecutors have been trying to get Mr. Pence to talk about Mr. Trump’s demands for several months — first through requests from the Justice Department for an interview and then through a grand jury subpoena issued by special counsel Jack Smith, who investigation into Mr. Trump’s attempts to stay in power.

Last month, Judge James E. Boasberg, the Chief Justice of the Federal District Court in Washington, in a pair of sealed verdicts, ordered Mr. Pence to appear before the grand jury, declining two separate challenges that would have prevented him from asking certain questions. to answer. to ask.

In one such challenge, Mr. Pence single-handedly tried to limit his testimony by arguing that his role as Senate President on January 6, when Mr. Trump’s defeat was ratified by Congress, meant he was protected from legal research. by the executive – including the Department of Justice. That argument was based on the Constitution’s “talk or debate” clause, which is intended to protect the separation of powers.

Judge Boasberg ruled that while Mr. Pence could claim some protection from testimony under the clause, he would have to answer questions about potentially unlawful acts committed by Mr. Trump. This month, Mr Pence announced he had no plans to appeal the decision.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Trump’s lawyers took the opposite route, asking the Court of Appeals to reverse Judge Boasberg’s ruling over their own efforts to limit the scope of questions Mr. Pence would have to answer. Mr. Trump’s legal team based its arguments on the concept of executive privilege, which protects certain communications between the president and some members of his administration.

The sealed appeals court ruling on Wednesday night came in response to an emergency request — it was also sealed — to temporarily stop Mr. Pence answering questions for the grand jury while the broader appeal is considered.

When Mr. Pence finally testifies, it will mark a major turning point in the months-long behind-the-scenes battle waged by Mr. Trump and several witnesses close to him to block the disclosure of details about plans to overturn the election.

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