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US court rejects Trump effort to block Pence testimony

Mike Pence has said that Donald Trump endangered his family and everyone else on January 6, 2021.

Mike Pence has said that Donald Trump endangered his family and everyone else on January 6, 2021. Photo: Getty

A United States federal appeals court has moved former vice president Mike Pence closer to appearing before a grand jury investigating efforts to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election, rejecting a bid by lawyers for former president Donald Trump to block the testimony.

It was not immediately clear what day Mr Pence might appear before the grand jury, which for months has been investigating the events preceding the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol and efforts by Mr Trump and his allies to subvert the election outcome.

But Mr Pence’s testimony, coming as he inches toward a likely entrance in the 2024 presidential race, would be a milestone moment in the investigation and would likely give prosecutors a key first-person account as they press forward with their inquiry.

The order from the three-judge panel of the US Circuit Court of Appeals was sealed on Wednesday and none of the parties were mentioned by name in online court records. But the appeal in the sealed case was filed only days after a lower-court judge had directed Mr Pence to testify over objections from the Trump team.

A lawyer for Mr Pence and a spokesman for Mr Trump did not immediately return emails seeking comment, and a spokesman for the Justice Department special counsel leading the investigation declined to comment.

The appeal was decided by Judge Gregory Katsas, a Trump appointee, and judges Patricia Millett and Gregory Wilkins, both appointees of former president Barack Obama. It was not clear if lawyers for Mr Trump might ask the entire appeals court to hear the matter.

Mr Pence was subpoenaed to testify earlier this year, but lawyers for Mr Trump objected, citing executive privilege concerns. A judge in March refused to block Mr Trump’s appearance, though he did side with the former vice president’s constitutional claims that he could not be forced to answer questions about anything related to his role as presiding over the Senate’s certification of votes on January 6.

A spokesman for Mr Pence subsequently said the former vice president would not appeal and that his arguments about the Constitution’s speech or debate clause, which is intended to protect members of Congress from being questioned about official legislative acts, had been vindicated.

“We’ll obey the law, we’ll tell the truth,” Mr Pence said in an interview with CBS News’s Face the Nation that aired on Sunday.

“And the story that I’ve been telling the American people all across the country, the story that I wrote in the pages of my memoir, that’ll be the story I tell in that setting.”

Mr Pence has said that Mr Trump endangered his family and everyone else who was at the Capitol that day and history will hold him “accountable.”

“For four years, we had a close working relationship. It did not end well,” Mr Pence wrote, summing up their time in the White House.

– AAP

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