Justice Department subpoenas Mike Pence in Jan. 6 probe

Then-Vice President Mike Pence faced enormous pressure while presiding over a joint session of Congress to count the Electoral College votes from the 2020 presidential election. File photo by Saul Loeb/UPI
1 of 4 | Then-Vice President Mike Pence faced enormous pressure while presiding over a joint session of Congress to count the Electoral College votes from the 2020 presidential election. File photo by Saul Loeb/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Former Vice President Mike Pence has been subpoenaed by the special counsel investigation into former President Donald Trump's actions leading up to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to reports.

Pence was asked to submit documents and testimony in the ongoing criminal probe by special counsel Jack Smith, sources told ABC News, NBC News and CNN. He is the highest-level official in Trump's former inner circle to face questions from Smith.


Smith was appointed in November by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee the Justice Department investigation into Trump's failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his potential mishandling of classified documents after leaving office.

The subpoena has been issued after months of bargaining between Pence's legal team and federal prosecutors, and comes more than two years after a violent mob stormed Congress in an effort to disrupt certification of Joe Biden's election win and keep Trump in office after he lost the electoral vote but falsely claimed to his followers that the process was rigged.


Last year, an investigation by the congressional committee investigating the attack found evidence of a wider conspiracy involving Republican aides and allies across the nation, including campaign officials in critical swing states, who allegedly served as phantom electors in a scheme to throw the election for Trump.

Pence, who faced enormous pressure from the president on the day of the riot, would have been central to the plot because he presided over the election certification in Congress as president of the Senate. But the vice president refused to take part in the ruse, which called for him to accept falsified certifications for Trump in states that Biden rightfully won, the committee said in its final report.

The select committee recommended four criminal charges against Trump, including obstruction of an official proceeding of the U.S. government, as well as conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make false statements and to "incite," "assist" or "aid or comfort" an insurrection.

Subpoenas from the special counsel, which have been issued recently to local or state officials who likely communicated with the White House during the twilight of Trump's term, indicated the focus of the investigation had turned to the alleged plot involving fake electors.


Pence previously described pleading with the incumbent to call off the alleged scheme, telling the president in one Oval Office meeting that, "Even your lawyer doesn't think I have the authority to return electoral votes," according to an op-ed that Pence wrote for the Wall Street Journal.

The vice president was forced to flee the Senate chamber on Jan. 6 as Trump's most radical supporters overran the Capitol, chanting "hang Mike Pence." At the White House, Trump tweeted that Pence "didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution."

Since the uprising, Pence has criticized the former president's words and actions as "reckless," while hailing the virtue of his own decisions that day, noting his congressional role on Jan. 6 was strictly ceremonial, and that he had no Constitutional power to redetermine the electoral votes.

There is "almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president," Pence said previously.

In answering to the subpoena, Pence has the option of invoking his Constitutional right to claim executive privilege, which could lead to an historic and unprecedented legal fight.

As of Friday morning, neither Pence nor Trump had commented publicly on the latest developments.


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