Trump criminal probe: Special counsel asks judge to compel Mike Pence testimony, report says

Key Points
  • Prosecutors reportedly asked a judge to compel former Vice President Mike Pence to comply with a grand jury subpoena in a criminal probe of ex-President Donald Trump's bid to overturn his election loss.
  • The sealed motion reportedly came after attorneys for Trump asserted executive privilege over Pence's subpoena in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
  • Special counsel Jack Smith is investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to reverse his defeat by President Joe Biden in 2020.
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks during an event to promote his new book at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank on October 19, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to compel Vice President Mike Pence to comply with a grand jury subpoena for his testimony in a criminal investigation of ex-President Donald Trump for efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden, a new report says.

The sealed motion, filed in recent days with Chief Judge Beryl Howell in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., came after attorneys for Trump asserted executive privilege over Pence's subpoena, CBS News reported Thursday.

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that special counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the probe, obtained grand jury subpoenas compelling the testimony of Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

Both Ivanka Trump and Kushner served as senior White House advisors during her father's administration.

Trump previously sought to exercise executive privilege — which allows certain presidential communications to be kept confidential — over grand jury testimony in the probe, news outlets have reported.

He has also tried to invoke it in other recent legal matters, including a battle over the hundreds of documents seized by the FBI last summer from his personal residence at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Smith also is leading a criminal probe of Trump in connection with that case.

Smith's motion to compel Pence's testimony in the election investigation asks Howell to uphold the legal authority of the grand jury subpoena, according to CBS, which cited people familiar with the case.

Pence's spokesman, when asked about the report by CNBC, pointed to CBS' reporting that Howell recently issued a gag order barring people involved in the probe from commenting on it.

Howell on Thursday rejected an effort by media outlets to access records related to the grand jury investigation.

A spokesman for Smith declined to comment to CNBC. An attorney for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pence last week said he would fight the subpoena.

"No vice president in American history has ever been compelled to testify against a president with whom they serve," Pence said.

Pence plans to argue that his former role as president of the Senate — which he held by virtue of being vice president of the United States — means he is covered by the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause, which can protect legislative branch members from legal threats related to their work.

An attorney for Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., cited that clause earlier Thursday, telling a federal appeals court that the Justice Department has no authority to search the congressman's cell phone as part of the agency's probe of Trump.

Separately, the FBI seized a classified document in a search of Pence's home earlier this month.

That consensual search was scheduled weeks after an attorney for Pence alerted the government to a "small number" of records with classified markings that were found at his residence.

Biden's attorney general, Merrick Garland, appointed Smith as special counsel in November, in response to Trump's announcement that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

At the end of his first term in office on Jan. 6, 2021, Trump urged Pence to help challenge the election results by rejecting key Electoral College votes for Biden.

After Pence refused, a violent mob of Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, sending the vice president and congressional lawmakers into hiding.

Pence, who is teasing a possible White House run of his own, said he believes there will be "better choices" than Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Read the full report from CBS.