A federal judge has declared that former Vice President Mike Pence must appear before a grand jury and answer questions about any conversations he had with former President Donald Trump prior to the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, according to multiple reports.
Chief D.C. District Judge James Boasberg’s order reportedly appeared in a sealed ruling, and Boasberg also said that Pence may decline to discuss his own actions that day, suggesting that the compulsion of his appearance and testimony is limited in scope to Trump’s potentially illegal actions that day.
This ruling sets up a showdown regarding executive privilege, which the NY Post’s reporting addressed next. “Pence’s attorney had also requested a legal exemption for the vice president, saying his testimony could violate the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution, which prevents members of Congress from facing legal liability over official proceedings.”
Pence is expected to appeal and has said he may take the matter all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
In a peculiar development regarding the matter of executive privilege, President Biden — speaking for the executive branch — has elected to waive executive privilege pertaining to the discussions between the former president and vice president.
That decision was communicated to special counsel Jack Smith on Biden’s behalf by White House special counsel Richard Sauber last month in a letter. It may be interesting to see how that notion — that a new administration may eliminate the past administration’s executive privilege — plays out in the courts.
Regarding the White House’s decision not to assert executive privilege on Pence’s, and perhaps Trump’s, behalf, Sauber wrote, “These events — which reflected the most serious attack on the operations of the Federal Government since the Civil War — threatened not only the safety of Congress and others present at the Capitol, but also the principles of democracy enshrined in our history and our Constitution.”
What remains to be seen is whether or not Boasberg’s ruling itself violates the Constitution.
Boasberg joined the federal judiciary in 2011 after being nominated by then-President Barack Obama.
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