Former Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that he is willing to take his fight against a subpoena for his testimony in the Justice Department’s 2020 election subversion investigation all the way to the Supreme Court.
“I am going to fight the Biden DOJ subpoena for me to appear before the grand jury because I believe it’s unconstitutional and unprecedented,” Pence told reporters after making a speech in Iowa.
He said he expects former President Donald Trump to bring his own challenge to the subpoena that will raise executive privilege claims. Pence, however, intends to fight the subpoena under the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, which shields legislators from certain law enforcement actions targeting conduct related to their legislative duties.
While other witnesses have raised Speech or Debate Clause argument in efforts to resist subpoenas in the DOJ probe and in the other investigations into January 6, 2021, Pence plans to invoke the clause in relation to his role as president of the Senate – which is believed to be untrod legal ground.
In that role, he presided over Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results on January 6, 2021.
“On the day of January 6, I was acting as President of the Senate, presiding over a Joint Session, described in the Constitution itself,” Pence said. “And so, I believe that that Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution actually prohibits the executive branch from compelling me to appear in a court, as the Constitution says, or in any other place. And we’ll stand on that principle and we’ll take that case as far as it needs to go, if need be to the Supreme Court of the United States, because to me, it’s – it’s an issue of the separation of powers.”
He said that over the last “several months,” his team had made it clear to the Justice Department that he believed the Speech or Debate Clause precluded a subpoena for his testimony.
CNN previously reported on Pence’s plans to raise claims under the Speech or Debate Clause.
Pence also noted that he has written and spoken publicly about the events leading up to the January 6 certification vote. But, he said, “if we were to accede to accept a subpoena for appearance before a grand jury or a trial, I believe that would diminish the privileges enjoyed by any future vice president, either Democrat or Republican. I simply will not do that.”
Pence first spoke publicly about his plans to fight the subpoena at an event in Minneapolis earlier Wednesday, saying that his fight was about ” separation of powers” and “defending the prerogatives that I had as president of the Senate.”
“My fight is on the separation of powers. My fight against the DOJ subpoena very simply is on defending the prerogatives that I had as president of the Senate to preside over the Joint Session of Congress on January 6,” Pence told reporters in Minneapolis.
“For me this is a moment where you have to decide where you stand and I stand on the Constitution of the United States,” he added.
Pence is one of several former members of Trump’s inner circle whose testimony federal investigators have sought, as they scrutinize the events leading up to and during the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. That probe, as well as the federal investigation into Trump’s handling of documents from his White House that were found at Mar-a-Lago, have taken a more aggressive tack since special counsel Jack Smith took over both investigations.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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