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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Andrew Feinberg

Pence testifies before federal grand jury investigating Trump

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Former vice president Mike Pence has given evidence before the federal grand jury investigating former president Donald Trump and his efforts to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss to Joe Biden, The Independent has confirmed.

Mr Pence spent roughly seven hours testifying to the grand jury and answering questions from prosecutors led by Jack Smith, the US Department of Justice special counsel leading investigations into Mr Trump’s push to remain in office against the will of voters, and the twice-impeached ex-president’s alleged unlawful retention of national defence information.

Mr Pence’s appearance before the Washington DC grand jury comes less than 24 hours after a federal appeals court rejected a last-ditch appeal to block his testimony by Mr Trump’s legal team.

A federal judge previously denied Mr Trump’s attempt to use executive privilege, a legal doctrine which protects communications between and among a president and his advisers, to shield Mr Pence from testifying about conversations he had with the then-president in the days leading up to 6 January 2021, when Mr Pence was set to preside over the joint session of Congress at which their loss to Mr Biden and Kamala Harris would be made official and final.

The judge did grant Mr Pence’s request to allow him to refrain from testifying about any actions he took in his role as President of the Senate, on the grounds that the US Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause prevents him from having to give evidence about his functions as the presiding officer of one half of the legislative branch.

His testimony comes as the former president faces mounting scrutiny from federal prosecutors and the special counsel’s investigation into the events surrounding January 6 and Mr Trump’s attempts to upend a democratic election, as well as a separate probe into Mr Trump’s handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida.

Mr Smith, who was appointed to lead investigations into Mr Trump after the ex-president declared his candidacy in the 2024 presidential election, has also compelled testimony from numerous former Trump administration officials as well as current and former advisers to Mr Trump.

Earlier this month, the grand jury heard evidence from Stephen Miller, who was a senior aide and speechwriter for Mr Trump during his presidency.

Grand jurors have also heard testimony from top aides to Mr Pence, including his chief of staff Marc Short and his counsel, Greg Jacob.

Both Mr Short and Mr Jacob also gave evidence before the House January 6 select committee last year, and in vivid detail described how Mr Trump tried to pressure Mr Pence into hijacking the counting of electoral votes with the aim of keeping them atop the executive branch despite having lost the election.

The former president is the subject of several criminal and civil investiations in several jurisdictions. He was criminally charged in New York for allegedly falsifying business records in connection with hush-money payments to an adult film star in the leadup to the 2016 election, and prosecutors in Georgia are mulling charges in connection with his attempts to pressure election officials in the state to overturn election results after losing to Mr Biden.

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