Mike Pence must testify before Jan. 6 grand jury, judge rules

Mike Pence
Former Vice President Mike Pence, shown this month at a GOP fundraising dinner, will have to testify before a grand jury investigating former President Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
(Steven Senne / Associated Press)

A federal judge has ruled that former Vice President Mike Pence must testify before a grand jury after he was subpoenaed by the special counsel investigating efforts by former President Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

That’s according to two people familiar with the ruling, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it remains under seal.

The sources said that Pence will not have to answer questions about his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, when a violent mob of Trump’s supporters stormed the building as Pence was presiding over a joint session of Congress to certify the vote. But he will have to testify about any potential illegal acts committed by the former president, one said.


Pence and his attorneys had cited constitutional grounds in challenging the grand jury’s subpoena. They argued that because Pence was serving that day in his capacity as president of the Senate, 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 being questioned about official legislative acts.

Trump’s lawyers had also objected to Pence’s compliance with the subpoena, citing executive privilege.

It’s hard to keep straight all the accusations brought against and investigations into Trump in recent years. Here’s a guide to the latest developments.

Oct. 20, 2023

A Trump spokesman criticized the ruling in a statement, accusing the Justice Department of “continuously stepping far outside the standard norms in attempting to destroy the long accepted, long held, constitutionally based standards of attorney-client privilege and executive privilege.

“There is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump,” the spokesman added. He did not respond to questions about how Trump’s legal team might respond.

Pence said Tuesday evening that his team was evaluating the judge’s ruling and would decide in the coming days whether to appeal.

“I’m pleased that the court accepted our argument and recognized that the Constitution’s provision about speech and debate does apply to the vice president,” Pence said during an appearance on Newsmax. “But how they sorted that out and what other testimony might be required, we’re currently reviewing.”


The sealed ruling from U.S. District Judge James “Jeb” Boasberg sets up the unprecedented scenario of a former vice president being compelled to give potentially damaging testimony against the president he served. And it comes as Pence has been inching closer to announcing a run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination — a decision that would put him in direct competition with Trump.

Pence was subpoenaed earlier this year to appear before the grand jury in Washington investigating election interference. In public appearances, he has cast that action as unconstitutional and unprecedented and said he would pursue the matter as far as the Supreme Court.

Still, he told ABC’s “This Week” that he might be open to testifying about matters not directly related to his congressional role.

“I’ve actually never asserted that other matters unrelated to Jan. 6 would otherwise be protected by speech and debate,” he told the network. “We’re going to make that case, but I promise you we’ll respect the decisions of the court.”

A Justice Department special counsel, Jack Smith, is investigating attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election. Multiple Trump aides have appeared before the federal grand jury and before separate panels examining allegations of Trump mishandling classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and pressuring election officials to reverse Biden’s win in Georgia.

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment. A lawyer for Pence did not return messages seeking comment.


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.” As vice president, Pence had a ceremonial role overseeing the counting of the electoral college vote but did not have the power to alter the results, despite Trump’s contention otherwise.

Pence has said Trump endangered his family and everyone else who was at the Capitol that day, and history will hold him “accountable.”