Mike Pence Gets Subpoenaed. Finally!

Mike Pence, come on down! The former Veep is in the news for the second time in two days, and not because the 2024 polls show him surging with Republican primary voters.

Yesterday ABC News was the first to report that Pence had received a subpoena from the grand jury investigating the events of January 6, 2021. That is distinctly not good news for the ketchup cleanup crew at Mar-a-Lago, since it means that Special Counsel Jack Smith has worked his way all the way to the top of the food chain, and there's only one place left to go. If he's subpoenaing Pence, he's asking questions about Trump.

And in the words of the great American Prophet Lizzo, "IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME."

Most of the coverage contains a paragraph like this one from the Washington Post:

It is unclear whether Pence will comply with the subpoena. His advisers had previously said he was not interested in appearing before the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Pence has told people privately that he has concerns about testifying against Trump because of executive privilege, according to the person familiar with the matter.

It's an interesting fudge, particularly in light of this sentence a couple grafs earlier: "The subpoena comes after months of negotiations between the Justice Department and Pence."

Here on Planet Earth, a grand jury subpoena isn't an invitation to an Arbonne party. You show up and testify or make your claim of privilege, or they come and arrest you. And the record for Trumplanders asserting executive privilege in these proceedings is not good. Trump's lawyers Jim Trusty and Timothy Parlatore tried and failed to convince US District Chief Judge Beryl Howell to sustain a claim of executive privilege invoked by Pence's top aides Greg Jacob and Marc Short, and the DC Circuit refused to intervene to block it. Ditto for former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Pat Philbin. Maybe the court will be more deferential to the former vice president ... but maybe not.

So this handwaving around the negotiations between the Justice Department and Pence's lawyers at least suggests the possibility that this is a friendly subpoena, rather than the angry exclamation point at the end of a pitched battle. As former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti points out on Twitter, "Often witnesses who want to testify *ask* for grand jury subpoenas so they can say they were compelled to testify even when they are willing (or even eager) to come in and talk." So it's conceivable that Pence's lawyers hammered out the parameters of their client's testimony, and then told the DOJ to send a process server so it wouldn't look like Pence was coming in voluntarily to spill the deets on whatever that orange maniac pressured him to do the day of the Capitol Riot.

In the meantime, some nice men from the FBI showed up at the Pence house in Indiana to search for any classified documents he might have taken home with him tucked in a Bible or some such. (Seriously, half of Pence and Short's testimony is like "Well, first we prayed for an hour, and then we asked ourselves what White American Jesus would do...")

In light of the discovery by President Biden's people of classified documents accidentally retained from his vice presidency, Pence recently tasked his lawyers with searching his own home and office for classified documents. And when they found about a dozen, they did exactly what Biden's people did — Pence called up the Justice Department and the Archives and cooperated fully to return the stuff and make sure there wasn't anything else stuck in some box in the attic.

He did not spend months denying that there were any further classified documents in his possession. He did not insist that they were his and he had a right to hang onto them. He did not get his lawyers to submit false attestations that he'd returned it all. He did not file insane lawsuits demanding the right to a special master to adjudicate his privilege claims. He did not take legal advice from Tom freaking Fitton.

Because Mike Pence, for all his many christofascist faults, is not a crazy person. So, watch and see if Pence tries to get Judge Howell to bail him out. And if not, well ... there's your answer.

[WaPo / CNN]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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