Former Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that he plans to resist the subpoena issued to him by the special counsel investigating Donald Trump’s role in January 6.
It was no surprise that Jack Smith issued the subpoena last week: He has been slowly closing in on Trump and the former president’s inner circle, and Pence is a key witness to both the events of January 6, 2021, and Trump’s state leading up to them.
But Pence is refusing to play ball. “I’m going to fight the Biden DOJ’s subpoena … because it’s unconstitutional and because it’s unprecedented, and the DOJ knows that,” Pence told reporters after an event in Minnesota. “The Constitution of the United States provides the executive branch cannot summon officials in the legislative branch into a court.”
Pence is arguing that he is protected by legislative privilege under his former role as president of the Senate. He believes that position shields him from Justice Department investigations under the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause.
That clause’s purpose is to protect members of Congress from having things they say during legislative activities be used against them in lawsuits.
“For me, this is about the Constitution. If we lose the Constitution, we won’t just be losing elections. We’re going to lose our country,” Pence said.
He likened his current stance to when he refused to overturn the results of the 2020 election despite intense pressure from Trump.
Pence’s refusal to cooperate is infuriating but unsurprising. Despite the fact that the rioters wanted to hang him—which White House aides have said Trump felt was deserved—the former vice president has repeatedly refused to testify in January 6 investigations.
The reason is simple: Pence is reportedly considering running for president in 2024. If he does, he will need all the support he can get, including from Trump’s base. If Pence testifies, he’ll have to denounce Trump, alienating his former boss’s supporters in the process.
But his argument against testifying doesn’t hold that much water. As part of an effort to remain in the public consciousness, he has released a book about his time at the White House. The memoir includes many details he would be asked to testify on.