Mike Pence will have to testify before a grand jury on efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The sealed ruling from a US district judge on Tuesday sets up the unprecedented scenario of a former vice president being compelled to give potentially damaging testimony against the president he once served.
Mr Pence, 63, has been inching closer to announcing a run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, which would put him in direct competition with his former boss.
Mr Trump is facing separate legal peril as he awaits a decision on whether he will be indicted in a criminal investigation in New York into “hush-money” payments he made to a porn star.
Mr Pence will be made to testify to the grand jury about conversations he had with Mr Trump leading up to Jan 6 2021, when a mob of the latter’s supporters violently stormed the US Capitol as Mr Pence was presiding over a joint session of Congress to certify the vote for Joe Biden.
But the judge said that the former vice president can still decline to answer questions related to his actions on Jan 6 itself.
Mr Pence was subpoenaed earlier this year to appear before the grand jury in Washington investigating election interference.
Mr Trump’s lawyers have argued that executive privilege, which shields some presidential discussions from being disclosed, barred him from testimony. Meanwhile, Mr Pence’s team had argued unsuccessfully that a constitutional protection against forcing lawmakers to provide evidence also prevented Mr Pence from testifying.
Mr Pence’s team is evaluating whether it will appeal.
In the lead-up to the congressional certification vote, Mr Pence faced enormous pressure from Mr Trump and his allies to disrupt lawmakers’ plans to validate Mr Biden’s win.
Riots in the Capitol stormed through the corridors looking for Mr Pence, whom they called a traitor.
The former Indiana governor and slated 2024 presidential hopeful, has spoken extensively about the pressure campaign, including in his book, So Help Me God.
Mr Pence has said that his former boss endangered his family and everyone else who was at the Capitol that day and said history will hold him “accountable”.
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