“Special Counsel Seeks to Force Pence to Testify Before Jan. 6 Grand Jury”


The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to force former Vice President Mike Pence to testify fully in front of a grand jury investigating former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, seeking to cut short any attempt by Mr. Trump to use executive privilege to shield Mr. Pence from answering questions, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The request — amounting to a pre-emptive motion to compel Mr. Pence’s testimony — came before the former vice president had even appeared in front of the grand jury, and before any privilege claims had actually been raised in court.

The sealed motion, filed in recent days in Federal District Court in Washington, is the latest step in a long-running behind-the-scenes struggle, first by the Justice Department and now by the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, to cut through the various assertions of privilege that witnesses close to Mr. Trump have repeatedly raised in an effort to avoid answering questions.

The privilege disputes have been handled by Judge Beryl A. Howell, the chief federal judge in Washington, who oversees all of the district’s grand jury matters, which as a rule are conducted in secret. Judge Howell is expected to step down from her position next month and be replaced by another chief judge.

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