Former Vice President Mike Pence testified behind closed doors Thursday before the grand jury investigating ex-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to reports from Reuters and other media outlets.
Pence was subpoenaed by Special Counsel Jack Smith in February following months of negotiations between prosecutors and the former vice president’s legal team. Smith is leading two criminal probes by the Department of Justice (DOJ) into Trump, including the former president’s efforts to remain in office after losing to President Joe Biden. Smith is also heading the DOJ’s investigation of the classified documents found in Trump’s Florida estate in August.
Trump previously attempted to block his former vice president from testifying in the special counsel’s probe, arguing that the information being sought was protected by executive privilege. According to a report from CNN on Wednesday, however, a federal judge denied Trump’s request to halt the subpoena.
A source close to the matter told Reuters that an increased security presence conducted a sweep of the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., prior to Pence’s arrival Thursday. Politico added in its report that the former vice president was escorted into the courthouse’s main entrances without being spotted by cameras.
Pence’s appearance before the grand jury was also confirmed by two sources who spoke with Politico on Thursday, although the individuals were not authorized to discuss the vice president’s testimony publicly.
According to media reports, Pence spent more than five hours in front of the grand jury. The former vice president is considered a key witness in Smith’s probe into Trump’s actions leading up to January 6, 2021, including pressuring Pence to throw out the 2020 election results while Congress certified the Electoral College votes. Trump repeatedly claimed that Pence had the power to block Congress’ certification progress, although Pence has disputed the argument.
Pence also attempted to fight the DOJ’s subpoena, and was granted limitations by the judge overseeing the grand jury about what could be discussed during his testimony. According to The New York Times, Pence was not forced to discuss any matters related to his role as president of the Senate on January 6, but he did have to testify about potential criminal actions by Trump.
Thursday’s testimony comes as Pence is exploring a challenge to his former running mate in the 2024 presidential election. Trump is the front-runner for the GOP nomination in several hypothetical matchups, including after he was dealt a 34-felony count indictment in Manhattan court last month.
While speaking to CBS News’ Face the Nation over the weekend, Pence said that he will make an official decision about running for president “well before late June.”
Newsweek has reached out to Trump’s press team via email for comment.