Mike Pence, the former Trump Vice President, spent over seven hours testifying before the Dept. of Justice’s Special Counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection and Trump’s efforts to overturn the 202o election. Pence is now the highest-ranking Trump official to testify before the Special Counsel’s grand jury.
His testimony, which former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel Ryan Goodman is describing as “historic,” comes just one day after a federal appeals court blocked Donald Trump’ attempt to block his former vice president from testifying.
Calling it a “significant development in the special counsel’s probe,” NBC News reports Pence’s SUVs entered a Washington, D.C. federal courthouse at 9:00 AM and left at 4:30 PM. Politico calls it “an extraordinary flashpoint in special counsel Jack Smith’s probe.”
“Pence could provide critical insights on Trump’s thinking in the days leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The former vice president published a memoir and Wall Street Journal opinion article detailing several of his interactions with Trump, but some details were left vague. Special counsel Jack Smith’s team is particularly interested in Trump’s efforts to try to block the certification of the election, NBC News previously reported.”
The New York Times’ Michael Schmidt on MSNBC says Pence has been “trying to avoid this for six years, dating back to when he was a key witness in the Mueller investigation but his lawyer … was able to get him out of having to go in” to testify.
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, before news broke Pence had testified, Thursday afternoon mused, “Pence’s insistence on protecting his role as President of the Senate from scrutiny when he answers questions before a grand jury forces consideration of what he wants to protect. Is it conversations with Senators about what they expected/wanted to happen on 1-6?”
This is a breaking news and developing story.
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Peter Navarro, Former Top Trump White House Advisor, Guilty of Criminal Contempt
Peter Navarro, the controversial economist and former top Trump White House advisor, was found guilty by a jury on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress Thursday afternoon after a short trial that began on Tuesday.
Navarro refused to comply with a congressional subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.
Legal experts had predicted a “quick conviction” after Navarro, called a “conspiracy theorist” who promotes “fringe” economic theories, had called no witnesses. The jury deliberated for under five hours. He faces up to two years in prison.
“The defendant chose allegiance to former President Trump over compliance with a subpoena,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Aloi told the jury Thursday, as Politico reported. “The defendant chose defiance.”
“Our government only works when people play by the rules and it only works when people are held accountable when they do not,” Aloi also said, during closing arguments. “When a person intentionally and deliberately chooses to defy a congressional subpoena, that is a crime.”
Politico reported earlier that “ Navarro has long claimed that Trump told him to defy the committee’s Feb. 9, 2022 subpoena and assert executive privilege, a demand he said conferred immunity from having to cooperate with Congress’ investigation.”
“There’s no mistake, no accident,” prosecutor John Crabb told jurors, NBC News adds.
“That man thinks he’s above the law,” Crabb said. “In this country, nobody is above the law.”
‘Look for a Quick Conviction Here’: Navarro Jury Could Reach a Verdict ‘Early This Afternoon’
Peter Navarro‘s criminal contempt of Congress trial is moving quickly and the jury may come to a verdict as early as this afternoon, court watchers say.
Navarro, who has been called a “conspiracy theorist” who holds “fringe” and “oddball” economic views, is a former top Trump White House aide. He advanced “Big Lie” election fraud claims and refused to comply with a February, 2022 subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. He was criminally indicted in June of 2022 by a federal grand jury.
The trial began Tuesday in D.C. federal court.
Just before 11 AM Thursday the case was handed to the jury, Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports.
“Given the brevity of the case, a verdict is highly likely in the next few hours,” Cheney adds, noting: “If convicted, he faces up to one year on each of two counts — one for refusing to testify, one for refusing to provide docs.”
“Navarro has long claimed that Trump told him to defy the committee’s Feb. 9, 2022 subpoena and assert executive privilege, a demand he said conferred immunity from having to cooperate with Congress’ investigation,” Politico reports. “For months, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta wrestled with intricate questions about how executive privilege might apply to a former adviser to a former president, whether Navarro’s belief that Trump had invoked the privilege constituted a defense to the charges and how the Justice Department’s decision to charge him compares with its longstanding views of immunity for some senior executive branch officials from compelled congressional testimony.”
Wednesday evening, former top DOJ official Harry Litman noted, “Peter Navarro evidence already done, closing arguments tomorrow. Basically, it’s an incredibly simple case — he knew he had to comply with the subpoena, and he still thumbed his nose at it.”
Adding the the government called three witness but “Navarro called nobody,” Litman predicted: “Look for a quick conviction here.”
‘How Much the Former President Should Pay Her’: Judge Hands Trump Big Loss in E. Jean Carroll Case
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan handed journalist E. Jean Carroll a win on Wednesday in her remaining case against Donald Trump, after the journalist’s attorneys hit hard against the ex-president’s request for a stay of her original civil trial against him for defamation, which was slated for January.
Judge Kaplan on Wednesday ruled Trump is liable for defamation over remarks he made against Carroll in 2019, after she publicly accused him of rape years prior, CNBC reports. A jury in May award Carroll $5 million in a separate civil trial, finding the ex-president liable for sexual abuse and defamation.
Handing Carroll “partial summary judgment,” Judge Kaplan “said the upcoming trial for Carroll’s civil lawsuit against Trump will only deal with the question of how much the former president should pay her in monetary damages.”
That closely aligns with remarks last month made by Carroll’s attorney, Robbie Kaplan, who said, “the January 15th jury trial will be limited to a narrow set of issues and shouldn’t take very long to complete.”
“E. Jean Carroll looks forward to obtaining additional compensatory and punitive damages based on the original defamatory statements Donald Trump made in 2019,” Kaplan said, as NPR reported.
On Wednesday in a motion Carroll’s attorneys had warned the judge that Carroll “faces continuing defamatory attacks from Trump,” while requesting the judge not grant the ex-president’s motion for a stay of the upcoming January trial.
After her May win at trial, speaking to CNN about the verdict, Carroll said Trump indeed had raped her: “Oh, yes he did.”
Trump filed a counter defamation lawsuit, but the judge denied his claim, agreeing with Carroll, and saying, “Mr. Trump ‘raped her,’ albeit digitally rather than with his penis.”
“In fact, both acts constitute ‘rape’ in common parlance, its definition in some dictionaries, in some federal and state criminal statutes, and elsewhere.”
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now a professor of law and MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst on Wednesday posted the motion from Carroll’s attorneys and wrote: “lawyers for @ejeancarroll have filed a motion opposing Trump’s efforts to stay his January defamation trial (only damages are left to be determined) pending appeal. Knives out, but Trump deserves it for trying to abuse the legal process to avoid accountability.”
Carroll’s attorneys wrote that Trump’s “motion for a stay ignores virtually the entire factual and procedural history of this four-year-old case and barely responds to Judge Kaplan’s decision denying such relief. That is no coincidence,” they said.
They accused Trump of “procedural gamesmanship,” called his points “meritless,” and said that when tested, “Trump’s position collapses.” They later called Trump’s position “frivolous.”
Trump would not “face substantial injury if he were denied a stay,” they said, and called the “harms that he describes … mainly self-inflicted.”
They also claimed “his objections to a short trial in January 2024 ring hollow based on his own litigation conduct. Indeed, Trump expressly requested an expedited trial in this case less than six months ago, and changed his mind only after an adverse verdict in a related matter.”
“In contrast, Plaintiff-Appellee E. Jean Carroll, who is 79 years old and faces continuing defamatory attacks from Trump, would suffer significant harm from a stay and such an order would also undermine core public interests,” they wrote. “This Court should therefore deny Trump’s motion for a stay.”
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