Special counsel Jack Smith has been quietly going about his job of investigating Donald Trump and has issued subpoenas to former vice president Mike Pence and ex-national security advisor Robert O’Brien. According to ABC News, Smith’s prosecutors were negotiating with Pence’s legal counsel, but he has instead been subpoenaed. Smith’s investigation is two-fold. He is investigating Trump’s interference in the transfer of power to President Joe Biden and his withholding classified documents after repeated requests that they be returned.
An unnamed source told CNN that Smith is interested in documents and testimony regarding January 6 from Pence, including his interactions with Trump leading up to the election and the insurrection. No one from either camp has officially commented on the subpoena. With respect to O’Brien, no indication has been made as to whether Smith is interested in the documents issue or the January 6 incident, though, according to CNN, O’Brien did consider resigning after the January 6 insurrection. It is unlikely that either man knows much about the classified documents. What is clear is that Smith is ramping up his investigation of Trump. Legal experts are weighing in that either way, it’s not good news for Trump.
CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen spoke with Jim Sciutto about the issue. He said that the fact that Smith has issued a subpoena to Pence “should be of great concern to the former president.” CNN outlined how Smith’s team initially tried to strike a deal with Pence, and when that fell through, they issued the subpoena. The nature of these negotiations led some to believe that Pence must be sitting on some explosive testimony. Eisen believes that Pence’s lawyers will attempt to assert executive privilege, but there is no privilege. Pence is no longer vice president, and courts have already ruled that Trump has no privilege. It is highly unlikely that Pence would receive a ruling any different. Eisen reiterated Merrick Garland’s stance that no one is above the law, and he further pointed to Smith’s reputation. It seems, then, that something interesting is certainly afoot with this case.
Both Pence and O’Brien are being compelled to testify before Smith’s grand jury. Eisen’s thoughts on the matter are: “I believe that the facts and the law strongly make a case for the liability of Donald Trump. I don’t think that executive privilege will bar Mike Pence’s testimony here, because he has written about the incidents in his book, and the former president is at great peril of federal charges because of this indication.” Eisen obviously can’t read the minds of the jurors; however, he is experienced in this arena.
Pence has already said (on PBS) that he told Trump that: “he ought to be prepared to accept the outcome of the election and move forward” and that Trump “was determined not to leave [his] post.” Pence, more than anyone, knows what happened leading up to January 6. He was not only on the front lines, but he became a target of Donald Trump. It is only fitting that he helps to bring him down.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years