Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Smith Subpoenas Pence

The opening on Politico this morning is a leak that special counsel Jack Smith wants to have a chat with Mike Pence. The legal term here is "subpoena," but no doubt it will be a friendly chat about some pleasant memories. Like "how did you feel when a Trump-inspired mob tried to hang you on Jan. 6, 2021?" The Washington Post also led with the subpoena. The New York Times led wth more on balloongate. In fact its second and third stories were also about balloongate. Here's the paper above the digital fold. After a big ad for a Jerry Seinfeld show, finally Pence shows up—in fourth place. Is the Times covering up for Pence? Probably not. Somebody there just seems to like spy stories. ABC News got the scoop, then everyone else began digging.

New York Times Feb 10

Smith, as you recall, has been charged with investigating both the Jan. 6 coup attempt (coupgate?) and documentgate. He has been pretty quiet about his priorities and how far he is into his investigation. He is a very experienced prosecutor and no doubt is doing his best to keep everything under wraps, but in D.C. sooner or later everything leaks.

Pence is no doubt having some fun discussions with his legal team now about what to do. Also with his political team. Smith knows exactly what questions to ask, like "What did you know and when did you know it?" And while he's at it, "What did Trump know and when did he know it?" Pence, as you may have heard, is a pretty straight shooter. He also has a J.D. He's not going to lie under oath to Smith's grand jury. He also probably doesn't want to be the guy who puts Trump behind bars. His legal team doesn't care about that. They just want to protect Pence, not Trump. But his political team is probably worried about the political fallout if he gets the blame for Smith indicting Trump in a few months.

Basically, Pence has three options:

  1. Fight the subpoena in court based on a claim of executive privilege.
  2. Show up without resisting and answer all questions with "I hereby invoke my Fifth Amendment right to be silent."
  3. Show up and answer all the questions honestly, letting the beans spill where they may.

A modified limited hangout won't work. Smith is much too experienced for that to work. If Pence gives a vague answer, Smith will keep probing. Pence has described what happened Jan. 6 in a book, So Help Me God, that he published last year, but answering direct questions from a very focused and smart prosecutor under oath is a whole different kettle of fish.

A complicating factor for Pence is that two of his top aides, Marc Short and Greg Jacob, have already testified before Smith's grand jury. They also testified before the Select Committee and Smith has those transcripts (and maybe even recordings). Pence has to be hugely careful not to say anything that might contradict what they have said or Smith could potentially start looking at perjury charges against some or all of them. This is a standard technique prosecutors use: First interview the small fish, then based on that information, interview the medium fish. After that has led as far as it it can, then it is time to have a chat with the Big Fish. (Advice to the Big Fish if you are reading this: DO NOT CALL PENCE AND OFFER ADVICE NOW. PHONE COMPANIES KEEP CALL RECORDS AND THEY CAN BE SUBPOENAED.)

This is all that is known now. If Pence goes to court to try to wiggle out of appearing, that will be public. It will also look bad for him, like he is trying to cover up something. As we all know, the coverup is worse than the crime. And in Pence's case, he hasn't even committed any crime. He would be covering up someone else's crime. (Advice to Pence if you are reading this: You can try to hide from Smith but you can't hide from God.) (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates