A federal judge unsealed his late March opinion on Friday compelling former Vice President Mike Pence to testify for special counsel Jack Smith’s probe into the events of Jan. 6, 2021.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, the chief judge for the district court for Washington, D.C., released the partially redacted document that led to Pence's testifying for several hours in front of the grand jury investigating the riot at the U.S. Capitol and the role that former President Donald Trump may have had in the events of the day, The Hill reported.
"The privilege the court applies today is 'broad enough to ensure the historic independence of the Legislative Branch' but 'narrow enough to guard against the excesses of those who would corrupt the process by corrupting its members,'" Boasberg wrote in his opinion denying Pence's motion to quash the subpoena to testify. "The Court's holding thus shields acts integral to the former Vice President's performance of his legislative function, but not those that were unrelated to or only incidentally preparatory for those functions. That, the Court believes, is the proper balance."
Pence tried to stop the subpoena by claiming his conversations with Trump and others relating to his duties that day, which included officially certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election during a joint session of Congress, were privileged communications and did not have to be disclosed.
"The former vice president, for his part, seeks a broader rule," Boasberg wrote in his opinion. "He suggests that conduct 'arising from the legislative sphere' is protected, which includes 'communications with persons outside the legislative branch concerning legislative activity.' He accordingly seeks a capacious holding that everything that he characterizes as 'preparations' preceding Jan. 6 is covered by the Clause. This proposal would vastly expand the reach of this provision."
In addition to investigating the events of Jan. 6, Smith investigated Trump for his handling of classified documents brought to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after leaving the White House in 2021. Trump was indicted Thursday on 37 counts related to the documents found at Mar-a-Lago. Smith delivered a statement about the indictment on Friday.
"This indictment was voted by a grand jury of citizens in the Southern District of Florida, and I invite everyone to read it in full to understand the scope and the gravity of the crimes charged," Smith said. "The men and women of the United States intelligence community and our armed forces dedicate their lives to protecting our nation and its people. Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States and they must be enforced. Violations of those laws put our country at risk."
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