Key members of the House committee probing January 6, 2021 are pressuring former Vice President Mike Pence – whom pro-Donald Trump rioters sought to be hanged on that dark day – to testify to his committee.
Pence will immediately become the most high-profile witness in the investigation and may expose the former president’s plan to steal the 2020 election and his recklessness in failing to stop the mob when he smashed his way into the US Capitol.
The possibility of his testimony came to the fore last week when he was seen leaving the door open to appear. However, the former vice president also dismissed warnings related to executive privilege and separation of powers, which could have made an argument for him to show up. A source with knowledge of Pence’s thinking told CNN last week that it would be wrong to overestimate his chances of testifying for those reasons, adding that the former vice president also believed that his Most of the information related to the experience is already done. Provided to the committee by two of his former top colleagues.
Pence has been hailed as a hero by some committee witnesses who refused to play into the former president’s demands to withhold certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. But his increasingly clear 2024 presidential hopes suggest that an appearance in person or on video before the committee could represent a much greater political risk.
After all, the biggest lesson from this year’s midterm election primary season is that candidates challenging Trump usually lose out on the post-election devastation in 2020, though a major exception has been in Georgia, where Pence’s support Brian Kemp, the Trump-backed challenger, prevailed in his primary.
Still, committee member Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, confiscated the first half of Pence’s comments to testify holding back the former vice president.
“I was encouraged to hear it. And I hope I understood what it meant,” Schiff told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” on Sunday. “We have been in discussion with the Vice President’s counsel for some time.”
Schiff said: “I believe that, if he is really inclined, there is a way to work around any executive privilege or separation of powers issues.”
The Republican vice chairman of the committee, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, refreshed last week from her loss to a Trump-backed primary challenger, also spoke out about the prospect of Pence potentially appearing before the panel.
Cheney told ABC News’s “This Week” on Sunday, “When the country has gone through a dire situation like this, everyone has an obligation to have information that goes forward. So I hope he does.” ” “I hope he understands how important it is for the American people to know every aspect of the truth about what happened that day.”
There is no public indication that a formal invitation has been sent to Pence. But like Schiff, Cheney said the committee was in contact with his lawyers. Wyoming Republicans seem to have had some success in coercing a key witness to testify. She publicly called to show former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and unlike some of Trump’s other senior aides, she did not deny a subpoena, eventually testifying behind closed doors.
But Cipollone’s future seems to lie not in politics but in law. Pence, by contrast, is in an increasingly difficult political position – and there is no indication that he is willing to follow Cheney to risk his immediate political prospects to provide a full account of the Capitol rebellion. .
Pence is dancing on a political pin-head
Pence spent the past few days in the early voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa, demanding a lane opening for 2024 that could be quite narrow, as he defied Trump to testify on TV to the committee. , as if his party appears to be dominated by the former president. Tough.
During nearly all of Trump’s presidency, Pence was a loyal, admirable fellow, whether his boss broke a constitutional norm or a behavioral barrier. But his political journey in recent days has underscored his balancing act as he attempts to save his political future. The former vice president has tried to claim credit for what conservatives see as the achievements of the Trump/Pence presidency, while distancing himself from the failed autocratic power grab with which it ended.
He has distanced himself from Trump by saying that the party needs to look forward and not backward – a swipe at the former president’s obsession with the 2020 election. And in recent days, Pence’s delicate political situation has prompted him to express concern over the unprecedented search and removal of classified documents from the former president’s home in Mar-a-Lago, but later criticism of GOP threats against the FBI. To do too.