Pence could have avoided subpoena by being forthright


(Columbus) The Republic

“It did not end well,” Columbus native Mike Pence wrote last autumn in his memoir, “So Help Me God”, regarding his term as vice president under President Donald J. Trump. The line was ridiculed as an epic understatement about the final days of his service to a man who, in his quest to illegally remain in power, summoned a violent mob that ransacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, many chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.”

Yet the fact is, it really has not ended at all. It will not end until we the people know everything we possibly can about what happened in the days and weeks between Election Day 2020 and Trump’s eventual realization that he would have to leave the White House after he lost to President Joe Biden.

Another fact is, special counsel Jack Smith, who is tasked with deciding potential criminal referrals stemming from Jan. 6, believes Pence has valuable information that he has not yet disclosed. That is why Smith last week subpoenaed Pence to testify under oath.

It appears likely Pence will fight the subpoena, but doing so would tarnish his legacy. Fighting the subpoena in court also would undermine favorable public sentiment after Pence did the right things on Jan. 6, fulfilling his oath and carrying out his duties to the Constitution and to the republic as the world went mad around him.

On multiple occasions, we have praised Pence for his actions on that day. Pence, for instance, led the effort to mobilize forces to safeguard members of Congress while Trump watched the insurrection on TV. Pence’s actions ultimately allowed Congress to reconvene and fulfill its duty to the American people by tabulating the votes of the states in the Electoral College and declaring Biden president-elect.

But we also have realized that Pence’s obligations to the nation he served and to American history demand much more, and certainly more than the incomplete version he provided in his memoir. Pence could have testified before the House select committee investigating Jan. 6. Indeed, Pence’s staff and the committee had discussions about securing his testimony. Pence, however, chose not to testify, and that committee, given its time limitations, did not press the case to subpoena Pence.

This is what we wrote in this space on Jan. 13, 2022, urging Pence to testify to the committee back then: “What Mike Pence has to say now is more important than anything he has ever had to say as a national figure. He showed brave determination to carry out his constitutional duties on Jan. 6, 2021, after the insurrectionists were finally called off and Congress returned to preserve our democratic bedrock, our peaceful transfer of power.

“Now, Pence owes a duty to history and a duty to the American people. His unvarnished telling of the events of Jan. 6, and the days that led up to that day, from his personal perspective, is essential.”

We don’t see that much has changed, except for this: Pence now faces a far less negotiable situation – a subpoena from someone with prosecutorial powers compelling him to do what he could have done much sooner, for his own good and for the good of the nation.