Washington (Trends Wide) — The select House committee investigating the Jan.6 attack is interested in gathering information from at least five members of former Vice President Mike Pence’s inner circle, according to three sources familiar with the effort.
Among them is Pence’s former national security adviser Keith Kellogg, who was subpoenaed by the commission on Tuesday and was with former President Donald Trump for most of the day on Jan. 6.
Multiple sources tell Trends Wide that some people close to Pence may be willing, either voluntarily or under the guise of a “friendly subpoena,” to provide critical information about how Trump and his allies tried to pressure the former vice president to overturn the results of the 2020 elections.
According to sources familiar with the discussions, some Pence advisers are showing more willingness to cooperate with the commission than has previously been made public.
Bennie Thompson, chairman of the commission, confirmed to Trends Wide last week that the commission was in the process of contacting Pence’s associates, but said its efforts had not been entirely successful.
“Well, yes and no,” Thompson responded when asked if Pence’s associates had cooperated. “I don’t just mean yes, when there have been some people who have clearly said no. So we’ve had, you know, people from both sides.”
Thompson did not reveal the names of any of the people the commission has been in contact with or may contact. But sources tell Trends Wide that the list is made up of several people close to Pence, including former chief adviser Greg Jacob and former chief of staff Marc Short. Also of potential interest to the commission, according to a knowledgeable source, are former Pence chief of staff Nick Ayers, former director of legislative affairs Chris Hodgson, political adviser Marty Obst and former special adviser Zach Bauer.
Additionally, former Pence press secretary and Trump communications adviser Alyssa Farah, who left the administration in early December 2020, has voluntarily met with Republicans from the House Select Committee and provided information, Trends Wide reported last month.
Jacob, Hodgson, Ayers and Bauer did not respond to Trends Wide’s request for comment. Kellogg and Short declined to comment.
In an email, Obst told Trends Wide that he has not had “any contact with the commission from January 6 to this point and no one has contacted me.”
On Tuesday night, a federal judge denied Trump’s attempts to withhold the commission’s records, dealing a blunt blow to the former president’s efforts to keep more than 700 pages of documents from his White House secret. Although Trump’s legal team says it intends to appeal, the ruling raises questions about its ability to prevent Pence’s advisers from helping the commission.
Kellogg became the first person from Pence’s inner circle to be subpoenaed by the commission on Tuesday. In its letter to Kellogg, the commission specifically expressed interest in learning more about at least one January 2021 meeting with Trump and White House attorney Pat Cipollone, during which Trump insisted that Pence not certify the election.
The commission also stated that Kellogg was in the White House on Jan. 6 while the attack was unfolding and has “direct information” on Trump’s “statements and reactions to the Capitol uprising.”
While Kellogg served as Pence’s National Security Advisor, he is considered a key witness due to his closeness to Trump on Jan.6. Robert O’Brien, the then National Security Advisor to the former president, was out of town that day.
According to sources who spoke to Trends Wide, Jacob has also emerged as a person of great interest to the commission. As Pence’s general counsel, Jacob played a key role in countering efforts to persuade the former vice president not to certify the election results.
Jacob was part of Pence’s team that opposed John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who espoused extreme legal theories about the vice president’s ability to override the election.
The commission has long viewed Jacob as a potential witness to the events in its investigation. But it became more prominent in the wake of a report in The Washington Post, confirmed by Trends Wide, according to which Eastman, who was advising Trump, sent Jacob an email during the riots in which he blamed Pence for provoking the violence on Capitol Hill. from the United States.
Seeking the cooperation of Jacob, as well as others close to Pence, underscores the commission’s interest in learning more about any pressure related to blocking the certification of election results.
“There was very clearly a plan on the side of the political coup to mobilize a campaign for Mike Pence to block the certification of electoral college votes,” Representative Jamie Raskin, a member of the select commission, told Trends Wide.
“Eastman’s activities are perfectly clear at this point. He was the architect of the legal strategy to claim for the first time in American history that the vice president had the unilateral authority to reject electoral college votes that were the result of the popular elections, “Raskin said, adding that Eastman is” obviously a figure of strong interest to the Jan. 6 select commission. “
Jacob could provide a first-hand account of Eastman’s role in that effort. Eastman was subpoenaed by the commission on Monday.
A tense political path
The commission’s work presents a major political challenge for Pence as he attempts to carve a path away from Trump, raising money and building a team for a potential White House bid in 2024.
Although Pence has defended his refusal to delay the counting of electoral votes on January 6, people close to him have recognized the danger of collaborating too openly with the commission, which many Republicans have called partisan.
The commission’s interest in some of Pence’s closest allies and the question of how cooperative those advisers can complicate an already winding political path for the former vice president.
Pence needs to keep his distance from Trump’s fight to override the election, while cultivating his ties to the former president’s base.
Plus, there’s the question of whether Trump himself could run for president again. People close to Pence have told Trends Wide that the former vice president, once known for his unwavering loyalty, will not wait to see what Trump decides.
The events of January 6 continue to be a source of division between the former vice president and Trump’s most loyal supporters within the Republican Party. Hostility toward the commission among many Republicans and conservative media means Pence has to be careful, said David Kochel, a Republican political operator from Iowa.
“Pence has to figure out how to defend his own actions to follow the Constitution and at the same time not touch that tripwire,” Kochel said.
Pence has repeatedly reaffirmed his decision to certify the electoral count since leaving office, saying his actions were constitutional. He has even called the effort to overturn the 2020 election results “anti-American.”
And when asked at an event in Iowa last week who “told him to scrap President Trump’s plan” on January 6, Pence bluntly replied, “James Madison.”
– Trends Wide’s Ryan Nobles, Paula Reid and Alex Marquardt contributed to this report.