Luis Ernesto Quintana Barney
(CNN) Former Vice President Mike Pence testified Thursday before a federal grand jury investigating the fallout from the 2020 election and the actions of then-President Donald Trump and others, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
The testimony marks a momentous moment in the criminal investigation and the first time in modern history that a vice president has been forced to testify about the president for which attribute.
Pence was scheduled to recount for the first time under oath his direct conversations with Trump by January 6, 2021. Trump repeatedly unsuccessfully pressured him to block the 2020 election result, including on the morning of January 6 in a phone call private, and a federal judge previously ruled that Pence could be forced to recount conversations the two men had in which Trump may have been acting corruptly.
Trump loses legal recourse to block Pence from testifying about his direct conversations
Pence’s meeting with investigators comes as he explores a possible challenge to Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and his testimony is likely to draw a strong backlash from his former boss.
As part of his recent political appearances and book tour, Pence frequently speaks about refusing to comply with Trump’s orders on January 6 and instead following the Constitution. However, she had avoided speaking under oath as part of any investigation.
The grand jury in Washington, whose proceedings are secret, met just before 9 am (Miami time) Thursday. That coincided with increased security inside the courthouse and two SUVs with tinted windows were seen ferrying people into the building.
battle in court
Special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s efforts to block the election result had long sought to inquire Pence under oath given his proximity to Trump in the White House.
Both Pence and Trump went to court to delay their unprecedented subpoena. But trial and appellate judges ordered Pence to testify about his direct conversations with the then-president, decisions that were in line with several other losses the courts handed Trump as he tried to bar top officials in his administration from testifying. .
The most recent decision, by the Washington Circuit Court of Appeals, which refused to provide emergency aid to Trump, came late Wednesday.
The case has even put Pence in a unique position to define the powers of his former office, with the court giving the former vice president the ability to keep his actions out of criminal proceedings while he served as president of the Senate on January 6. However, much of what Smith’s team seems to be interested in would be achievable for the researcher.
They look for Pence to testify while Trump attacks the Court 1:57
Pence and Trump talks leading up to January 6
Trump’s conversations with Pence and about Pence in the days leading up to the storming of the US Capitol have been of great interest to investigators investigating the attack.
Although Pence declined to testify before the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, people in Trump’s orbit told the committee of a heated phone call he had with Pence on the day of the attack in which he hurled insults. against his vice president. Pence and Trump did not speak during the attack on the Capitol, in which many of Trump’s determinants furiously searched for him, and Pence narrowly escaped the mob headed for the Senate compound.
Much of what is known about Trump’s communications with Pence leading up to the insurrection comes from a memoir the former vice president released last year, as well as from people who testified in the House investigation into the attack.
Nicholas Luna, a former special counsel to Trump, told the commission that he was recording Trump calling Pence a “wimp.” Luna said he remembered something similar to Trump saying, “I made the wrong decision four or five years ago.”
And Julie Radford, Ivanka Trump’s former cabinet secretary, said she was recording Ivanka Trump telling her that “her father had just had an upsetting conversation with the vice president.”
Radford said he was told that Trump called Pence “the P word,” a derogatory term used to call someone a “coward.”
In the book, Pence wrote that Trump told him in the days before the attack that he would inspire the hatred of hundreds of thousands of people because he was “too honest” to try to overturn the election results.
The former vice president also said in the book that he asked his general counsel for a briefing on Voter Recount Act procedures after Trump, in a December 5 phone call, “mentioned that he would contest the election results in the House of Representatives for the first time.
During lunch on December 21, Pence wrote, he tried to convince Trump to listen to the advice of the White House legal team, rather than outside counsel, a suggestion the president then rejected.
And Pence wrote that Trump told him in a phone call on New Year’s Day: “You’re too honest,” predicting that “hundreds of thousands are going to hate you to death” and “people will think you’re stupid.”
“Mr. President, I do not dispute that there were irregularities and fraud,” Pence wrote as he told Trump. “It’s just a matter of who decides, and by law, that’s Congress.”
CNN’s Devan Cole, Lauren Koenig, Aileen Graef, Andrew Millman and Holmes Lybrand contributed to this report.
The CNN Wire
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.