Well that was quick: Mike Pence just testified against Donald Trump to Jack Smith’s grand jury

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Yesterday the U.S. Court of Appeals denied Donald Trump’s request to block Mike Pence from testifying to Jack Smith’s DOJ grand jury. I said that assuming Trump didn’t bother with a Supreme Court appeal, which wouldn’t have bought him much time, we could expect Pence to testify within “days.” I guess I should have used the singular version of that word, because it turns out it only took one day.

That’s right, Mike Pence testified to the grand jury today. It happened that quickly. Pence’s testimony lasted for more than seven hours, according to ABC News and NBC News. This amount of time makes clear that this was real testimony, with detailed answers. If Pence had simply pleaded the fifth or said “I don’t recall” in response to every question, it would have been over very quickly. But keep in mind that Pence can’t plead the fifth, because he has no criminal liability here. You can only plead the fifth to protect yourself, not to protect someone else.

Nor is it realistic to believe that Pence would have lied to the grand jury today. Pence has spent his entire political career lying to the public. But if you lie to a grand jury, you go to prison for perjury. And since the DOJ is so far down the road of having pieced together what happened in relation to this case, there is no lie that Pence could have told today without the fear that it would have gotten him nailed for perjury.

So it is fully safe to presume that Mike Pence really did give Donald Trump up to the grand jury today. If you can’t wrap your head around that concept, keep in mind that Pence’s only other choice would have been to risk going to prison (for perjury or obstruction) in order to protect Trump. And that’s not realistic.

Yesterday I said that once Pence did testify, it would be interesting to see whether or not we even learned about it. Grand jury proceedings are secret by default. The only time the media knows about testimony is if it spots someone going in or out of the courthouse, or if someone involved with the case decides to leak that they testified. Sure enough, NBC is now reporting that it did indeed see Pence’s motorcade arrive in the courthouse parking garage today, and then leave seven-plus hours later. In addition to that, NBC also says that someone “familiar with the matter” confirmed that Pence testified. Given how few people would be in a position to be able to confirm such a thing, my guess is that NBC contacted Pence’s people and said it had seen his motorcade at the courthouse, and at that point Pence’s people confirmed that he did indeed testify.

So where does this leave Jack Smith’s Trump probe? As far as anyone on the outside knows, Mike Pence was the final witness to be cleared by the appeals court to testify. Other endgame witnesses such as Mark Meadows were cleared by the courts to testify weeks ago. There hasn’t yet been any reporting that Meadows has gone ahead and testified, but again, this kind of testimony doesn’t get reported unless the media gets lucky.

If Mike Pence is indeed the final witness in Jack Smith’s January 6th case against Donald Trump, then Smith can indict Trump whenever he wants. We’ll see if any new revelations in Pence’s testimony will prompt Smith to bring back any earlier witnesses for additional testimony. But this case seems to be done. For that matter, Jack Smith’s parallel classified documents case against Donald Trump seems to have already been done for weeks.

We don’t always know what other witnesses a prosecutor might decide to call at the very end of the indictment process. For example, in Manhattan, Michael Cohen was believed to be the final scheduled witness, but then the DA ended up putting David Pecker back on the stand before bringing the indictment. So we’ll see what happens with Jack Smith’s DOJ case.

But we do know this much. Donald Trump has now officially run out of pre-indictment stall tactics in this DOJ case. The appeals court has cleared everyone to testify, and now Mike Pence has testified. There’s nothing else Trump can do at this point, except to lie awake at night and wait for Jack Smith’s indictment to come down. I’m not going to try to predict any specific date or timeframe. But it’s obviously coming soon.

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