Former President Donald Trump may be making headlines for his legal woes in New York, but he’s fighting on other fronts, too.
In addition to the state and local investigation in New York, Trump is facing a federal investigation into possible culpability for the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
And Trump just saw his case run into a major hurdle.
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On Wednesday, Mike Pence’s office said that the former vice president will not appeal a judge’s order compelling him to testify in the Justice Department’s investigation.
The decision sets up a possible appearance by Pence in the coming weeks before a federal grand jury scrutinizing the former president’s attempts to relitigate the 2020 election.
Multiple Trump administration officials have testified in that investigation, but Pence would be the highest-profile witness to answer questions before a grand jury. His closed-door testimony could offer investigators a firsthand account of Trump’s state of mind in the pivotal weeks after he lost to Biden and further expose the rift in their relationship since the end of their administration.
The strain could grow as Pence approaches a likely 2024 run for the presidency and a challenge to Trump, who already is in the race for the Republican nomination.
After Pence was subpoenaed months ago by the Justice Department’s special counsel, lawyers for Trump objected on executive privilege grounds. But a federal judge in Washington last week rejected those arguments, forcing Pence to testify.
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U.S. District Judge James Boasberg did give Pence a win by accepting arguments from Pence’s lawyers that, for constitutional reasons, he could not be questioned about his actions on Jan. 6. They had argued that because Pence was serving in his capacity as president of the Senate that day, he was protected from being forced to testify under the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause, which is intended to protect members of Congress from questioning about official legislative acts.
On Friday, Newsmax host Greta Van Susteren had asked whether he intended to appeal the ruling. At the time, Pence had yet to make a decision.
“I’ll have more to say about that in the days ahead,” Pence said. “We’re currently reviewing… We’ll have a decision in the coming days.”
Now, Pence has made up his mind.
“Having vindicated that principle of the Constitution, Vice President Pence will not appeal the judge’s ruling and will comply with the subpoena as required by law,” Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement Wednesday.
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The Trump team could still appeal the executive privilege ruling from Boasberg.
The Jan. 6 and classified records investigations are being led by Jack Smith, a former war crimes prosecutor who was named by the Justice Department in November to serve as special counsel. It is not clear when the investigations might end or whether anyone will be charged.
Pence has spoken extensively about Trump’s pressure campaign urging him to reject Biden’s victory in the days leading up to Jan. 6, including in his book, “So Help Me God.” Pence has said that the vice president does not have the power to affect the results of a presidential election, despite Trump’s contention otherwise.
Pence has said that Trump endangered his family and everyone else who was at the Capitol that day and history will hold him “accountable.”
“For four years, we had a close working relationship. It did not end well,” Pence wrote, summing up their time in the White House.
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Trump has described the investigation as politically motivated.
After all, he was acquitted of related charges in the U.S. Senate while still serving as president, and he’s been touting the acquittal.
Trump faced an investigation from the House Select Committee on Jan. 6, and the committee referred Trump to the Justice Department for prosecution. However, Trump has taken issue with the committee’s Democrat leadership.
“The Fake charges made by the highly partisan Unselect Committee of January 6th have already been submitted, prosecuted, and tried in the form of Impeachment Hoax # 2,” Trump reportedly said on his Truth Social platform last year.
This federal investigation is not related to the other federal investigation, regarding Trump’s handling of classified records. It is also not related to the local investigation in Fulton County, Georgia.
So far, Trump has experienced mixed luck in court. He won a $122,000 judgment from Stormy Daniels to cover the legal bills from her failed defamation suit. On the other hand, he recently became the first ex-president ordered to appear in court.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.