The Justice Department is asking Pence to answer questions as part of the investigation on January 6

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Justice Department prosecutors have asked former Vice President Mike Pence to answer questions as part of their broad investigation into the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, according to two people familiar with the matter. .

The informal request came in recent weeksbefore last Friday, when Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee aspects of the January 6 investigation, as well as a separate investigation into former President Donald Trump’s possession of hundreds of classified records at his home after leaving office.

Pence has not decided how to handle being asked to answer questions about his interactions with Trump toward the end of their time in the White House, a person briefed on the discussion said. Both people familiar spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations.

Pence has not received a formal subpoena, one of the people said, describing the talks with the Justice Department as a preliminary stage. Both people said the department had contacted Pence’s attorney, Emmett Flood, who is representing the former vice president in the matter.

From Europe, Trump’s special counsel takes over the Mar-a-Lago investigation, parts of the investigation on January 6

The New York Times was the first to report the Justice Department’s extraordinary request to the former vice president: that he share his private conversations with his former running mate, the president and de facto party leader, even as Trump launches a new campaign for the White House and Pence also considers offer for 2024

The Justice Department has already engaged in lengthy negotiations with other Trump advisers over requests to interview them, navigating issues of executive privilege. Asking Pence to turn over sensitive conversations with the president could spark another fight on the issue.

The conversation with Pence is an important step in the long investigation. Garland faced heavy criticism in 2021 and early 2022 for appearing slow to investigate the role of Trump and his top aides in efforts to overturn the presidential election. The department’s investigation expanded in March to look at those who planned and financed the rally before the Capitol riot, and to request phone records of critical players in the White House and Trump’s orbit, up to and including his chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Later that spring and summer, the Justice Department sought a vast amount of additional information, including communications with several top Trump advisers and dozens of others involved in efforts to offer fake lists to pro-Trump voters in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona and other states won by President Biden.

Pence’s aides, including chief of staff Mark Short, answered questions for hours before a Washington-based grand jury about Jan. 6, when a rowdy crowd left a Trump rally and stormed the Capitol, as well as the events leading up to that day and the interactions of Trump with Pence and his White House team. Short has appeared before the grand jury twice.

At the same time, the Justice Department is gathering witnesses and evidence in its Mar-a-Lago documents investigation, which is focusing on the potential misuse of highly classified information, obstruction and destruction of government property. And in Georgia, District Attorney Fannie Willis (D) is conducting a separate investigation into efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the state’s election results.

Sen. Lindsey Graham testifies before Georgia grand jury in 2020 election probe

In interviews for his recent book, “So Help Me God,” Pence criticized Trump for actions that Pence said were “reckless” and “endangered” him, his family and everyone in the Capitol. In an interview with ABC’s “World News Tonight” published Nov. 13, Pence called out Trump for his words of encouragement to his supporters on Jan. 6 and for tweeting that his vice president did not have the courage to block certification and “did what he had to do to be done.

“I mean, the president’s words were reckless,” Pence said in a preview clip. “It was clear that he decided to be part of the problem.” But Pence also said in another interview that speaking before a congressional committee investigating the events leading up to the attack on the Capitol — including Trump’s pressure on Pence — would undermine the separation of powers between branches of government.

Pence did not appear before the committee on Jan. 6 and was critical of its composition, although some of his top aides appeared and he blessed their appearances, people familiar with the matter said.

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