Pence has not decided how to handle the request that he answer questions about his interactions with Trump near the end of their time in the White House, said a person briefed on the discussion. Both people with knowledge of the matter spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations.
Pence has not been issued a formal subpoena, one of the people said, describing the talks with the Justice Department as being at an early stage. Both people said the department has reached out to Pence attorney Emmet Flood, who is representing the former vice president in this case.
The New York Times was it first to report the Justice Department’s extraordinary request to the former vice president: that he share his private conversations with his former running mate, president and de facto party leader, even as Trump has launched a new campaign for the White House and Pence is also considering a 2024 bid.
The Justice Department has already engaged in lengthy negotiations with other advisers to Trump over requests to interview them, navigating issues of executive privilege. A request for Pence to turn over sensitive conversations with the president could spark a new battle over the issue.
The move to speak with Pence is a significant step in the long-running investigation. Garland faced intense criticism in 2021 and early 2022 for apparently being slow to investigate the role of Trump and his top aides in efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election. The department’s investigation expanded in March to look into those who planned and financed the demonstration before the Capitol riot and to request phone records of critical players in Trump’s White House and orbit, up to and including his chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Later in the spring and summer, the Ministry of Justice sought large amounts of additional informationincluding communications with several top advisers to Trump and dozens of others involved in the effort to offer fake slates of pro-Trump voters in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona and other states won by President Biden.
Pence aides, including chief of staff Marc Short, have answered hours of questions before a Washington grand jury about Jan. 6, when a riotous mob left a Trump rally and stormed the Capitol, as well as the events leading up to it. to that day and Trump’s interactions with Pence and his White House team. Short has appeared before the grand jury twice.
At the same time, the Justice Department is gathering witnesses and evidence in its Mar-a-Lago documents investigation, which focuses on the potential mishandling of highly classified information, obstruction and destruction of government property. And in Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis (D) is launching a separate investigation into efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the election results in that state.
In interviews for his latest book, “So help me God,” Pence has criticized Trump for actions that Pence said were “reckless” and “threatened” him, his family and everyone at the Capitol. In an ABC “World News Tonight” interview published Nov. 13, Pence shouted Trump for his words addressing his supporters on January 6 and for tweeting that his vice president did not have the courage to block the certification and “do what should have been done.”
“I think the president’s words were reckless,” Pence said in one preview clip. “It was clear that he decided to be part of the problem.” But Pence also said in another interview that speaking to the congressional committee investigating the events leading up to the attack on the Capitol — including Trump’s pressure on Pence — would undermine the separation of powers between the branches of government.
Pence did not appear before the committee on Jan. 6 and was critical of its makeup, even as some of his top aides appeared and he blessed their appearances, people familiar with the matter said.