Justice Department seeks to question Pence about January 6

The Justice Department is reportedly seeking to question former vice president Mike Pence as a witness as part of its criminal investigation into former president Donald Trump’s attempts to stay in office after the 2020 election, The New York Times reported.

The former vice president, whose life was threatened during the insurrection at the Capitol on 6 January after he refused to overturn the election results, is reportedly open to speaking. Mr Pence reportedly sees the investigation by the Justice Department as separate from the one held by the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot.

But the former president might also try to invoke executive privilege were his former vice president to testify. Mr Trump has taken this step when it came to other former officials, such as former adviser Steve Bannon.

Similarly, Mr Trump tried to stifle Mr Pence’s former chief of staff Marc Short and his former general counsel Greg Jacob, but both men later testified after the Justice Department pushed back on efforts to apply executive privilege.

The Justice Department seeks to question Mr Pence because of the fact he was present during critical moments in which Mr Trump and various loyalists sought to block certificiation of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

Such a testimony would also come as Mr Pence is promoting his memoir, So Help Me God, wherein he describes his decision not to go along with Mr Trump’s scheme.

Thomas Windom, one of the investigators probing efforts to overturn the election, reportedly contacted Mr Pence’s team after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a special counsel for the investigations into the former president.

Last week, Mr Garland nominated Jack Smith to oversee the investigations into the former president because of the fact Mr Trump announced he would run for president again in 2024 and President Joe Biden has hinted he would run again.

Emmet Flood, a longtime Washington lawyer, represents Mr Pence. Mr Flood served as the main lawyer for the Trump White House during the special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller into the role of Russian interference in the 2020 election.

Mr Flood is also representing other former Trump administration officials caught in the crosshairs of multiple investigations.