A federal judge has issued a sealed order mandating former Vice President Mike Pence to give testimony before a grand jury regarding his conversations with former President Donald Trump.
The conversations are allegedly about the results of the 2020 election and the January 6 riot. The ruling represents yet another legal issue for Trump.
The investigation has already resulted in several arrests and criminal charges against individuals who participated in the riots. Former President Trump has faced legal challenges from multiple fronts since leaving office, including civil lawsuits related to his conduct while in office and criminal investigations into his business dealings and taxes.
According to FoxNews:
Pence was subpoenaed last month by the Justice Department special counsel as part of the probe into the Jan. 6 riot. Pence’s team filed a motion to block that subpoena, claiming that as vice president, his conversations with Trump and top White House aides were protected by executive privilege claims.
But Judge Boasberg on Tuesday rejected those arguments after meeting with lawyers from both sides in a closed court hearing last week in Washington.
Sources told Fox News that Boasberg ruled separately that Pence could refuse to answer certain questions to the grand jury about his role as President of the Senate, during the January 6 election certification process in the U.S. Capitol. That effort was interrupted for a time by violent encounters with protesters in the building.
Pence had claimed that the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause shields him from questions about official legislative actions.
The Speech or Debate Clause is a provision in the United States Constitution that provides certain protections to members of Congress related to their legislative activities. Specifically, it states that “for any Speech or Debate in either House, [Senators and Representatives] shall not be questioned in any other Place.”
This clause is intended to protect the legislative branch from interference by the executive or judicial branches of government. It allows members of Congress to speak freely and openly in debates and to express their opinions without fear of legal reprisal.
The clause also provides some immunity to members of Congress from legal action related to their legislative activities. This means that they cannot be arrested or sued for anything they say or do in the course of their duties as legislators.
However, the scope of the Speech or Debate Clause has been subject to some controversy and interpretation over the years. For example, it is unclear whether the clause applies to activities outside of Congress, such as the vice president’s role in certifying election results, or whether it provides absolute immunity from legal action.