Pence was present at some of the critical moments when Trump and his allies plotted to keep him in office and block congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory. A cooperation agreement would be the latest notable twist in an investigation already fraught with legal and political ramifications, involving a former president who’s now a declared candidate for a return to the White House — and his potential Republican rivals from 2024 nomination include Pence.
Thomas Windom, one of the lead investigators investigating efforts to overturn the election, reached out to Pence’s team in the weeks before Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel on Friday to investigate the Jan. 6 investigation and a separate one Investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents to monitor, according to a person familiar with the matter. Garland said the appointment of Special Counsel Jack Smith will not slow the investigation.
Justice Department officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Pence declined to comment.
Discussions about questioning Pence are said to be at an early stage. Pence has not been subpoenaed and the process could take months as Trump may attempt to block or slow his testimony by attempting to invoke executive privilege.
Trump has invoked executive privileges to try to block other former top officials from speaking to investigators. While these efforts have generally been unsuccessful in stopping the officers from testifying before a federal grand jury, they have significantly slowed the process.
Trump’s efforts to slow or block testimony included asserting executive privilege over the testimony of two of Pence’s top advisers: his former chief of staff Marc Short and his general counsel Greg Jacob. But both men returned for grand jury interviews after the Justice Department fought efforts to use executive privilege in a closed trial.
Pence, who dismissed Trump’s efforts to win him over to the plan to block the electoral college results, publicly criticized Trump’s conduct leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and on the day of the attack. as members of a pro-Trump mob chanted “Hang Mike Pence.”
In interviews for the release of his new book, So Help Me God, Pence has claimed that “Congress has no right to testify” about what he saw, despite efforts by the Jan. 6 committee to get him to do so to tell his story .
“There are profound problems with the separation of powers,” Pence told the New York Times in an interview. “And it would set a terrible precedent.”
But Pence sees the Justice Department investigation differently because it is a criminal investigation, according to people familiar with his mindset. His testimony could be compelled by a subpoena, although none was issued.
Representing the former vice president is Emmet Flood, a veteran Washington attorney who served as lead counsel for the Trump White House on the 2016 investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller into a possible conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia .
Flood is representing several other senior White House officials who are finding themselves as witnesses in the Congressional and Justice Department investigations into Trump, including Short.
Efforts to seek an interview with Pence are breaking new ground for both the department and the former vice president.
Pence is considering a presidential campaign in 2024 in a race Trump has already announced his candidacy for. And Biden’s Justice Department is trying to use Pence as a potential witness against Trump; Both could end up as Biden’s rivals should he run again, which he has indicated as likely.
Pence has written extensively in his book about Trump’s efforts to stay in power and the pressure campaign he imposed on his vice president beginning in December 2020.
Among other interactions he describes, Pence details how Trump summoned him to the Oval Office on January 4 to meet with a conservative attorney named John Eastman, who has repeatedly argued that Pence was performing the ceremonial duties of overseeing the certification of the electoral college by Congress. Eastman promoted the notion that Pence had the power to overturn the results of states where Trump was still trying to contest the result.