The House panel investigating the Capitol riot is poised to summon the man who might prove to be most crucial witness of all—Mike Pence. Committee chair Bennie Thompson told NPR last week that the panel intends later this month to ask the former vice president to voluntarily appear. But whether Pence agrees to show up or instead forces the committee to subpoena him is the topic of complicated negotiations that have been underway for a while, reports the New York Times.
The vice president is currently undecided on how to proceed, according to the Times, which reports that he has in recent weeks begun leaning against voluntary participation. He reportedly faults the committee for speculating about a possible criminal referral to the Justice Department about former President Trump, a move he sees as overtly political and pegged to the midterms. The former VP also thinks the committee is leaving the public impression that members of his team have been more cooperative than they actually have been, per the Times.
Pence's role is vital because he refused to block certification of the election count on Jan. 6, 2021, despite Trump's exhortation to do so as recently as that afternoon. When a mob stormed the Capitol, chants of "Hang Mike Pence!" could be heard, and Trump himself has said he was aware of them. "The vice president was put in a tough spot," Thompson told NPR. "The president was putting a lot of pressure on him to break the law, and he stood fast. ... And so, if for no other reason, our committee really needs to hear what are his opinions about what happened on Jan. 6." (Read more Mike Pence stories.)