November 27, 2022

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Prosecutors for the Justice Department have asked former Vice President Mike Pence to answer questions as part of their wide-ranging investigation into the events of Jan. 6, 2021 and efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The informal request came in the last few weeksbefore last Friday, when Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee aspects of the Jan. 6 investigation, as well as a separate probe into the possession of hundreds of secret records belonging to former President Donald Trump at his home after he left the presidency.

Pence has not decided how to handle a request to answer questions about his interactions with Trump towards the end of her time in the White House, said a person briefed on the discussion. Both people familiar with the matter spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal talks.

Pence was not issued a formal subpoena, one of the people said, describing the talks with the Justice Department as at a preliminary stage. Both people said the department has reached out to Pence’s attorney, Emmet Flood, who is representing the former vice president on the matter.

From Europe, Trump’s special counsel is taking over the Mar-a-Lago investigation, parts of the January 6 investigation

The New York Times was the first to report the Justice Department’s extraordinary request to the former vice president: that he share his private conversations with his former running mate, president and de facto party leader, despite Trump’s launch of a new pro-white campaign House and Pence are also considering a bid for 2024.

The Justice Department has already engaged in lengthy negotiations with other Trump advisers over requests for interviews with them and has been dealing with issues of executive privileges. A request for Pence to escalate sensitive talks with the President could spark a new fight over the issue.

The move to speak to Pence is a significant step in the long-running investigation. Garland was heavily criticized in 2021 and early 2022 for appearing to be slow to investigate the role of Trump and his top aides in efforts to reverse the presidential election results. The department’s investigation expanded in March to look into those who planned and funded the pre-riot rally at the Capitol and to request phone records for key players in Trump’s White House and in orbit, up to and including his chief of staff, Mark meadows

Later that spring and summer, the Justice Department searched for vast amounts of additional information, including communications with several of Trump’s top advisers and numerous others involved in efforts to falsify lists of pro-Trump electors in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona and other states won by President Biden.

Pence aides, including Chief of Staff Marc Short, have spent hours answering questions before a Washington-based grand jury about Jan. 6, when a rioting mob walked out of a Trump rally and stormed the Capitol, and the events leading up to that day and Trump’s interactions with Pence and his team at the White House. Short has appeared before the grand jury twice.

At the same time, the Justice Department is gathering witnesses and evidence in its Mar-a-Lago document investigation, which focuses on the possible misuse of top-secret information, obstruction, and destruction of government property. And in Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis (D) is conducting a separate investigation into efforts by Trump and his allies to reverse the state’s election results.

Sen. Lindsay Graham testified before the Georgia grand jury at the 2020 election inquiry

In interviews for his recent book So Help Me God, Pence has criticized Trump for actions that Pence said were “reckless” and “endangered” him, his family and everyone in the Capitol. In an ABC interview with World News Tonight published Nov. 13, Pence called out Trump for his words that goaded his supporters on Jan. 6 and his tweet that his vice president didn’t have the guts to blocking the certification and “what should have been done.”

“I mean, the President’s words were reckless,” Pence said in a preview clip. “It was clear he chose to be part of the problem.” But Pence also said in another interview that a conversation with the congressional committee investigating the events leading up to the attack on the Capitol — including Trump’s pressure on Pence – would undermine the separation of powers between the branches of government.

Pence did not appear before the January 6 committee and criticized its composition, even as some of his top aides appeared and he blessed their appearance, people familiar with the matter said.

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