Former US Vice-President Mike Pence has testified as part of a criminal investigation into alleged efforts by Donald Trump to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election.
Pence, 63, sat for more than seven hours before a federal grand jury in Washington DC. The court issued him with a subpoena to testify under oath earlier this year.
The questioning by prosecutors took place behind closed doors. His appearance on Thursday came just hours after an appeals court rejected a last-ditch bid by the former Pres. Trump’s legal team to stop Pence from testifying.
Pence’s lawyers had also sought unsuccessfully to challenge the subpoena. He argued that his role as president of the Senate during his time in office meant he had congressional immunity.
His eventual testimony, which had been sought for months, is a major milestone in the two-year investigation. which is being led by special counsel Jack Smith, a former war crimes prosecutor who was appointed to the role by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The investigation has been gathering evidence about whether former US President Donald Trump and his allies broke federal law in their efforts to challenge the result of the 2020 election.
It is also investigating the US Capitol riot on 6 January 2021, when Trump’s supporters stormed the building in an effort to prevent the election result from being certified.
Pence, who like all vice-presidents was also president of the Senate – a mostly ceremonial role – could in theory have derailed the final certification of the election result and delayed the transfer of power.
Trump publicly pressured his vice-president to do so, and his refusal led him to lash out at Pence.
Trump supporters then chanted “hang Mike Pence” as they stormed Congress and marauded through the corridors of the Capitol building as politicians sheltered inside.
Pence is reportedly considering a presidential bid of his own in 2024. It would see him challenge Trump directly for the Republican nomination.