A federal Judge has ruled today that Mike Pence must testify against Trump to the DOJ grand jury. No surprise. Pence can appeal, but he’ll lose, and it won’t last long. As I’ve said, courts treat disputes over grand jury subpoenas seriously and move quickly. With the kind of case the DOJ has built, Pence was always going to have to testify.
Just to shut down the defeatist narratives that are about to get tossed around:
– No, Pence can’t plead the fifth (Pence has no criminal culpability to begin with)
– No, Pence can’t just lie (DOJ already knows what happened and would nail Pence for perjury)
– And no, Pence can’t just “run out the clock.” That isn’t a real thing with grand jury subpoenas, and it doesn’t become a real thing just because so many people out there like to chant that “run out the clock” phrase in unison over and over again. Today’s ruling should help make this clear to you.
This comes just days after the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Trump’s attorney must testify against him (which he did), and a federal judge ruled that Mark Meadows and other White House aides must testify against Trump.
Why is the DOJ suddenly winning so many of these rulings in a row? Because it’s spent a very long time painstakingly building up such an overwhelming case that it’s finally met the court’s threshold for waiving things like executive privilege and attorney client privilege.
In fact Trump’s strategy all along was to limit his circle of co-conspirators, and potential witnesses against him, strictly to people he had some form of existing legal privilege with. That even goes back to how he used his attorneys, long before he was in politics.
A less aggressive or less competent DOJ might not have been able to build enough of an overwhelming case to be able to convince the courts to strike down executive privilege and (especially) attorney client privilege. You should probably send Merrick Garland a thank you card.
By the way, Pence (obviously) wants the DOJ to take Trump off the table long before 2024. Pence just doesn’t want to be seen as eager to help, because when Trump goes down, Pence doesn’t want Trump’s base blaming him.
So when Pence was subpoenaed, even though he knew that the DOJ had enough of an overwhelming case to successfully enforce the subpoena, Pence very publicly “fought” it anyway, knowing he’d quickly lose.
By the way, Pence is thrilled that you’re bashing him for trying to protect Trump. That’s the narrative he wanted out there. And it’s a narrative that’ll stick, even after he testifies against Trump and such. Because he made a big show of “trying” not to do it.
The people on TV and Twitter who have no insight to offer are still going to keep chanting “run out the clock” at you because Pence hasn’t yet technically exhausted his appeals. But you saw this ruling come swiftly. You’re seeing the appeals in this case settled even more swiftly. Pence will be forced to testify soon, as will Meadows and the others, and then you can expect the DOJ to indict Trump on a litany of charges. This was always the path we’ve been on, and now it’s a whole lot closer to reaching the finish line.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report