WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Mike Pence has been subpoenaed by the special counsel investigating former President Donald Trump's effort to stay in office after the 2020 election and his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Special counsel Jack Smith was appointed in November by Attorney General Merrick Garland to lead the Justice Department's inquiries into Trump's role in the riot as well as the former president’s handling of classified documents after he left office. The subpoena is related to the Jan. 6 investigation, the source said.
Spokespersons for Smith and Pence declined to comment on the matter.
ABC News first reported that Pence has been subpoenaed.
In December, NBC News reported that Smith had subpoenaed local officials in key presidential swing states for any and all communications involving Trump, his campaign and a series of aides and allies who assisted in his effort to overturn the 2020 election.
The move was an indication that Smith is probing into a scheme involving fake electors, a slate of individuals who signed documents purporting they were their states’ rightful electors and falsely asserting Trump was the victor in those states.
The House committee formed to investigate the attack on the Capitol gathered evidence that the fake electors submitted false certifications of Trump victories to the National Archives in hopes of having Pence substitute them for the actual electoral votes that made Joe Biden president.
The Jan. 6 committee devoted an entire hearing to Pence's role on that day — and the intense public and private pressure Trump applied to Pence to get his vice president to interfere with the electoral count.
Pence, as then-president of the Senate, presided over Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results, but that role was strictly ceremonial, with no power to intervene in the counting of electoral votes.
Still, Trump sought to apply pressure on his vice president even after Pence's aides, as well as Trump's, said it would be illegal for the then-vice president to interfere in the count, according to testimony before the Jan. 6 committee.
In a Wall Street Journal opinion article, Pence described telling that to Trump himself during an Oval Office meeting with lawyer John Eastman, one of the architects of a memo that outlined a scenario in which Pence could refuse to certify the electoral college count.
After Eastman described his plan as mere theory, Pence wrote that he turned to Trump and said, “Mr. President, did you hear that? Even your lawyer doesn’t think I have the authority to return electoral votes.”
Pence, who ultimately performed his ceremonial duty in the aftermath of the violence, has said he’s “proud” of what he did on Jan. 6 and has declared there’s “almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president."
When asked on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” in November if he believes Trump had committed a crime, Pence said, “Well, I don’t know if it is criminal to listen to bad advice from lawyers.”
"The truth is, what the president was repeating is what he was hearing from that gaggle of attorneys around him," Pence said. "Presidents, just like all of us that have served in public life, you have to rely on your team, you have to rely on the credibility of the people around you. And so, as time goes on, I hope we can move beyond this, beyond that prospect. And this is really a time when our country ought to be healing.”
The former vice president, who has hinted that he is considering a run for president in 2024, has also criticized Trump for his actions on that day. As a mob of the then-president's supporters descended on the Capitol, Trump tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution" — prompting chants of "hang Mike Pence" as rioters sought out the vice president who had to be rushed to a secure location.
In November, Pence called Trump's Jan. 6 tweet about him “reckless” and said the remark “angered” him.
“I mean, the president’s words were reckless and his actions were reckless,” Pence said in an interview with ABC News' David Muir. He added, “The president’s words that day at the rally endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol building."