Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday explained how he intends to push back against a grand jury subpoena requesting his testimony in the Justice Department’s investigation into former President Donald Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
Pence was reportedly subpoenaed by special counsel Jack Smith, who is tasked with investigating the former president’s involvement in the deadly Capitol riot. Smith is also overseeing a separate probe into Trump’s handling of classified documents.
Following a speech in Minneapolis, Pence told reporters that while Trump acted recklessly on Jan. 6, “it’s also wrong to establish a precedent where a legislative official can be called into court by the executive branch.”
“The fact that no vice president has ever been subject to a subpoena to testify about the president with whom they served makes this unprecedented, but that goes to executive privilege,” Pence said, according to CBS.
The former vice president clarified he will be fighting this on the grounds of separation of powers, unlike Trump’s lawyers who will also fight Pence’s subpoena, asserting executive privilege.
“My fight against the DOJ subpoena, very simply, is on defending the prerogatives I had as president of the Senate to preside over the Joint Session of Congress on Jan. 6,” Pence said.
Through his role as vice president, Pence acted as president of the Senate and presided over the joint session of Congress that certified the results of the 2020 election.
Pence claims this role protects him from legal scrutiny, and is reportedly planning to cite the U.S. Constitution’s speech or debate clause. It’s unclear whether this can apply to the vice president role as this provision is intended to shield congressional lawmakers from legal proceedings linked to their work.
In his memoir published in November, Pence recounted Trump pressuring him to reject Electoral College votes in his efforts to undo now-President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was also reportedly subpoenaed by Smith for testimony and documents regarding Trump’s Jan. 6 role.
Pence is considered to be one of the Republicans who might challenge Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
Asked if he is running in 2024, Pence replied: “I’ll keep you posted.”
Onetime U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday officially kicked off her campaign, becoming the first Republican to announce a challenge against Trump who declared his candidacy in November.