US Justice Dept seeks to question former V-P Pence in Capitol attack probe

Former vice-president Mike Pence has been publicly critical of Mr Donald Trump’s conduct in the run-up to the Jan 6 assault on the US Capitol. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON - The United States Justice Department is seeking to question former vice-president Mike Pence about Mr Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, media reports said on Wednesday.

The New York Times and other outlets said Mr Pence was considering the request to appear as a witness in the department’s criminal investigation into the actions of the former president.

US Attorney-General Merrick Garland named a special counsel last week to oversee the two federal criminal probes into Mr Trump, who has announced a run at the White House in 2024.

One investigation is focused on the former president’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and the attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.

The other is a probe into a cache of classified government documents seized in a Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida in August.

The special counsel will determine whether Mr Trump should face any charges, though the Attorney-General will have the ultimate say on whether charges should be filed.

The Times said the request for Mr Pence’s testimony was made before the appointment of the special counsel, Mr Jack Smith.

Mr Pence’s testimony could help shed light on Mr Trump’s bid to block the Jan 6, 2021 certification by Congress of Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.

Mr Trump publicly pressured Mr Pence, who presided over the session of Congress, not to certify the election results, but the then Vice-President resisted his demands.

Mr Pence has denounced Mr Trump’s actions on Jan 6 as “reckless” but has declined to answer questions from a congressional committee investigating the Capitol attack.

But the Times said Mr Pence was open to considering the Justice Department’s request for his testimony because it is a criminal investigation.

He has not been formally subpoenaed.

Mr Trump could try to block Mr Pence’s testimony by citing executive privilege, as he has tried to do with other former officials who have been summoned for questioning in the probe.

Mr Pence is believed to be considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 but has not yet announced his candidacy. AFP

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