Mike Pence testified before a federal grand jury on Thursday in Washington about Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to a source familiar with the matter, a day after an appeals court rejected a last-ditch motion to block his appearance.
The former vice-president’s testimony lasted for around seven hours and took place behind closed doors, meaning the details of what he told the prosecutors hearing evidence in the case remains uncertain.
His appearance is a moment of constitutional consequence and potential legal peril for the former president. Pence testified for more than five hours.
“I think that the vice president, you know, had his own case based on the Speech and Debate Clause. He was pleased that for the first time a judge acknowledged that it applied to the vice president of the United States,” said Pence adviser Marc Short. “But he was willing to comply with the law, and courts have ordered him to testify.”
Pence is considered a major witness in the criminal investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith, because Trump pressured him to unlawfully reject electoral college votes for Joe Biden at the joint session of Congress.
Pence was at a White House meeting with Republican lawmakers who discussed objections to Biden’s win.
Pence’s meeting with investigators comes as he is exploring a possible challenge to Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, with his testimony likely to elicit a strong negative reaction from his former boss.
As part of his political appearances and a recent book tour, Pence frequently speaks about refusing to do Trump’s bidding on January 6 and instead following the Constitution. But he had avoided speaking under oath as part of any investigation.
The grand jury in Washington, DC, whose proceedings are secret, assembled just before 9 a.m. with an increase in courthouse security.