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Pence draws ire of Jan. 6 committee for 'closing the door' on testimony

Former Vice President Mike Pence claimed Congress has “no right” to his testimony and said he is “closing the door” on questioning by the panel.
Former Vice President Mike Pence
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on Oct. 19.Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former Vice President Mike Pence said in a new interview that he won't provide testimony to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, drawing criticism from the panel's leaders, who called his decision "disappointing."

In a CBS News interview that aired Wednesday evening, Pence claimed when asked whether he would sit for questioning that Congress has “no right” to his testimony, adding, "I’m closing the door on that."

Pence criticized the makeup of the committee, which has two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

“I served for 12 years in the Congress,” he said. “It’s inconceivable to me that one party would appoint every member of a committee in Congress. That’s antithetical to the whole idea of the committee system. That being said, I never stood in the way of senior members of my team cooperating with the committee and testifying, but Congress has no right to my testimony."

Pence, who has been promoting his new memoir, "So Help Me God," did not acknowledge that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., opposed a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol attack and withdrew his GOP nominees for the subsequent select committee.

Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Cheney, the vice chair, said in a statement that Pence was wrong.

“The select committee has proceeded respectfully and responsibly in our engagement with Vice President Pence, so it is disappointing that he is misrepresenting the nature of our investigation while giving interviews to promote his new book,” they said.

“The select committee has consistently praised the former vice president’s refusal to bow to former President Trump’s pressure to illegally refuse to count electoral votes on January 6th. But his recent statements about the Select Committee are not accurate,” they added.

Pence's former chief of staff, Marc Short, testified before the committee in January. Short accompanied Pence at the U.S. Capitol to certify the 2020 presidential election results as a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the building amid his refusal to concede. Short also appeared before a federal grand jury investigating the attack in July.

At a public hearing in June, the committee detailed Trump’s public and private efforts to pressure Pence not to certify the election results. Pence ultimately carried out his constitutional duty to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

Pence had indicated he would consider testifying if he were invited to appear, but he suggested he would need to sort out thorny constitutional questions before he committed.

“If ever any formal invitation were rendered to us, we’d give it due consideration,” he said in reply to a question at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics’ “Politics & Eggs” series in August.

In recent remarks, Pence has taken aim at Trump while promoting his memoir, which was released this week.

In an interview with ABC News, Pence said Trump’s tweet on Jan. 6, 2021, that he lacked “the courage” to overturn the 2020 election results was “reckless,” and he criticized Trump as “a part of the problem.” His remarks were his strongest condemnation of Trump’s actions during the Capitol riot to date.

“I mean, the president’s words were reckless, and his actions were reckless,” Pence said in an excerpt of the interview released Sunday. He added, “The president’s words that day at the rally endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol building,” according to ABC News.