Pence said Boasberg’s ruling was the first to shed light on how the vice president is entitled to the constitutional protections lawmakers enjoy without being forced to testify in criminal investigations. said there is.
Mr. Boasberg’s verdict and reasoning have so far remained secret because grand jury rules generally forbid discussion by anyone other than a witness. The press asked the judge to break the seal, and the judge granted the request on Friday. Mr. Boasberg said repeated discussions and revelations by Mr. Pence and his lawyers eliminated the need for secrecy.
An 18-page opinion issued by Mr. Boasberg in March reveals that the court granted Mr. Pence the privilege of avoiding testimony only to very specific questions. In particular, prosecutors are believed to have wanted to hear from Mr. Pence about his failure to pressure Mr. Pence, the Trump Justice Department and officials in key battleground states to overturn the election. That includes attempts by Trump’s lawyers to field allies in place of electors in some states where Joe Biden won. Mr. Boasberg does not seem to rule out such questions.
“The court held that although this clause applies to the Vice President, it does not cover most of what the special counsel seeks to interrogate the Vice President. It will result in a partial dismissal,” Boasberg wrote in the ruling.
The Constitution’s “Speech or Debate Clause” protects elected representatives who carry out the legislative work of the people from coercion or intimidation (such as the threat of investigation or imprisonment) by the president’s agents, the core of the separation of powers. aimed at principle.
But Boasberg said the key finding was that the protection is limited to actions taken in preparation for, or in preparation for, official business by lawmakers, and does not apply to “communications encouraging lawmakers to commit illegal acts.”
Boasberg took Pence’s actions in preparing for and addressing the House of Representatives on Jan. 6, along with advice from internal staff on the extent of his authority that day (which was protected) and urging Pence to stop speaking to Congress. It drew a line between Trump and other conversations. The vice president’s own aides told him they were not legally allowed to verify the election results.
“The bottom line is that conversations encouraging Pence to reject the Electoral College on January 6 are not protected from investigation,” Boasberg said.
Mr. Pence sought to open up a wider range of conversations, including any conversations that, even by chance, were intended to “educate lawmakers on the issues at hand.”
But that would “cover up conversations with people who have opinions…there can be no such rule,” Boasberg wrote. “Rather, the touchstone is whether these conversations were integral to the performance of the vice president’s official duties.”
Mr. Boasberg did not publish his opinion in its entirety, leaving edits to remove references to specific testimony or the factual or strategic basis for prosecutors to seek it because the investigation is ongoing. The Justice Department did not appeal the ruling announced Friday by Boasberg that it plans to unseal the redacted case documents.
“At the core of what the media is asking here, and what the court is trying to publicize, is the legal argument over the controversy already disclosed by Mr. Pence,” Boasberg wrote in Friday’s judgment.
Pence, who is competing with Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has positioned himself as a passive witness who has resisted demands to testify. Still, he spoke about the incident in his book, So Help Me God, published late last year, as well as in promotional interviews.
His aide, Mark Short, and Pence’s chief of staff and chief adviser to the vice president, Greg Jacob, met with the Justice Department and appeared before a grand jury. For example, Jacob admitted to congressional investigators that efforts by Trump’s attorney John Eastman to get Pence to stop Biden from winning the electoral vote violated the Electoral College Act, and Trump said they were informed it was illegal.
Pence said Trump’s actions endangered everyone in the Capitol, including Pence’s family, who were trapped together in the Capitol, but publicly downplayed Trump’s criminal charges.
“I don’t know if it’s a crime to listen to bad advice from a lawyer,” Pence said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last year. “Actually, what the president was repeating was what I heard from the lawyers gathered around him.”