Mike Pence subpoenaed: Trump special counsel Jack Smith hits former VP with a subpoena
The Justice Department investigation into Donald Trump and the Janaury 6 attack on the Capitol has taken a significant turn.
The Justice Department investigation into former President Donald Trump took a major turn on Thursday when it was announced that Mike Pence has been issued with a subpoena. The former Vice President was a close ally of Trump’s but drew his ire on 6 January 2021 when he refused to deny the certification of President Biden’s victory.
Back in November Jack Smith was appointed as special counsel overseeing the Justice Department’s sprawling Trump inquiries. His remit covers everything from the storming of the Capitol to the handling of classified documents.
At this stage it is not clear what information Pence will be asked to provide but it marks a new stage in the investigation. ABC News reports that Pence’s legal team have been in negotiations with federal prosecutors for months regarding his potential cooperation with the investigations.
Taking such a bold and public step - issuing a subpoena to Trump’s White House second-in-command – suggests that the Justice Department probe is entering a more advanced stage.
Why has Mike Pence been subpoenaed?
Late last year Attorney General Merrick Garland opted to enlist the help of a special counsel to oversee the Trump investigation. Garland, a Biden appointee, hoped to avoid claims of partisan motivation when he named experience prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel.
Smith has brought cases against gang members, war criminals and even a sitting US senator during the course of his career, but has largely managed to keep a low profile. That all changed when he was named special counsel on the Trump investigations and he has taken a significant step in subpoenaing Pence.
In his final few days as Vice President in January 2021, Pence came under increasing pressure from Trump to approve a scheme that would involve submitting fake electors to the Electoral College. With Trump claiming publically that he was the victim of election fraud, his team found a series of Republican lawmakers willing to falsely assert that they were their state’s rightful elector and that Trump had won the state.
However Pence, as Senate President, controlled the certification process on 6 January and made clear that he would not allow false electors. During the recent House January 6 Committee hearings a whole session was devoted to Pence’s role the events of that day.
Reuters report that Trump continued to pressure Pence, both publically and in private, despite being told that it would be illegal to attempt to overturn the election result in this way.
Smith’s investigation could hinge on evidence from interactions between Pence and Trump in the build up to 6 January. If Trump knowingly pushed Pence to commit a crime then the Justice Department case against the former President will gain significant momentum.