Former Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday he’d “consider” testifying before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection if he were asked.
“If there was an invitation to participate, I would consider it,” Pence said. “But you’ve heard me mention the Constitution a few times this morning. [Through] the Constitution, we have three co-equal branches of government and any invitation that would be directed to me, I would have to reflect on that.”
“It would be unprecedented in history for a vice president to be summoned to testify on Capitol Hill,” he continued. “But as I said, I don’t want to prejudge. If ever any formal invitation [is] rendered to us, we’d give it due consideration.”
Notwithstanding Pence’s claim, though, presidents and vice presidents have testified before Congress in the past ― most recently when then-President Gerald Ford went to Capitol Hill just two months after taking office to explain his pardon of Richard Nixon, who had resigned in disgrace.
One Republican ally close to Pence said he and his staff are fully aware of Ford’s testimony, but still believe that there are “separation of powers” issues that trouble him about appearing before the Jan. 6 committee.
Ford appeared willingly to explain to Congress why had pardoned Nixon as an effort to encourage national “healing,” while Pence would come, if he does so, under subpoena. “I do think there are differences,” the Republican said on condition of anonymity, adding that to date, the committee has not formally asked Pence to appear.
Further, top aides to Pence have already appeared under oath before the committee, including lawyer Greg Jacob, who appeared in person during a hearing. The Pence ally allowed that a Pence personal appearance would make for great television, but wondered what new information could be obtained that hasn’t already been obtained. “Factually, what piece are they missing?” the Republican said.
Members of the violent mob on Jan. 6 targeted Pence during the insurrection, aiming to stop him from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, which former President Donald Trump falsely claims to have won.
To that end, legislators like Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) attempted to give Pence false election documents, hoping to overturn the 2020 election.
Pence had to be evacuated from the Senate chamber the riot, during which his security detail feared for their lives.
The vice president returned to the dais later that day to fulfill his ceremonial duty and certify the election results, despite the earlier chants of “Hang Mike Pence” from the crowd outside.
“I will always be proud that we did our part on that tragic day to reconvene the Congress and fulfilled our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” Pence said as part of a series of talks featuring prominent Republicans, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The truth is, there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”
Other presidents had previously testified before Congress, including Abraham Lincoln. And in 1873, Vice President Schuyler Colfax appeared voluntarily before a House select committee to answer questions about stock he held in a railroad construction company that was receiving federal subsidies.