Judge orders Pence to give evidence in January 6 probe

·2-min read

The top federal judge in Washington, DC has ordered former vice president Mike Pence to testify before a grand jury regarding his interactions with former president Donald Trump in the days leading up to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

In a sealed opinion first reported by CNN, Chief Judge James Boasberg reportedly ordered Mr Pence to give evidence in response to any questions from Special Counsel Jack Smith that could elicit answers about illegal acts committed by the ex-president.

Mr Pence had sought an order precluding him from testifying before the grand jury entirely, and in papers filed with the court he had claimed immunity under the US Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause, citing his role as President of the Senate during Congress’ quadrennial certification of electoral votes.

Judge Boasberg’s order also reportedly allowed Mr Pence to decline to answer any question that touched on his actions during the certification, but did not preclude him from discussing his interactions with Mr Trump in the lead-up to it.

The former vice president can still appeal the ruling, but courts have repeatedly declined to prevent witnesses from testifying to the grand jury probing Mr Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election despite repeated claims of executive privilege and other privileges by Mr Trump and his allies.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a different ruling which forces one of Mr Trump’s lawyers, Evan Corcoran, to give evidence about Mr Trump’s actions in relation to a separate grand jury investigation into his alleged unlawful retention of classified documents at his Palm Beach, Florida residence.

The court found that a different federal judge had properly applied an exception to attorney-client privilege which can be invoked when it is found that legal advice was sought to further commission of a crime.