Pence was subpoenaed for the special counsel investigation on January 6

Pence, who was aiming to derail Trump’s last-ditch bid to derail the transfer of power to Joe Biden, leaned on his then-vice president to prevent Congress from counting electoral votes that would have ensured a Biden victory.

Pence resisted the effort, drawing Trump’s ire, even as a mob violently attacked and breached the Capitol on January 6, 2021, where Pence was presiding over electoral vote counting.

One advantage for Smith in pursuing Pence’s testimony is that Pence wanted to publicly describe his private interactions with Trump in the chaotic weeks before Jan. 6. Pence wrote about it in his recently published book, indicating that he directly told Trump that even his own lawyers didn’t think the court would support his plan to single-handedly overturn the results for Pence.

Two of Pence’s top aides — Mark Short and Greg Jacobs — have already testified before the grand jury and are the subject of ongoing secret legal proceedings in federal court over Trump’s efforts to assert privilege over their testimony. Both men testified at length before the Select Committee on January 6 last year and provided key evidence that a federal judge said pointed to “possible” crimes committed by Trump.

The subpoenas are likely to trigger an executive privilege fight if Trump or Pence ask a judge to rule that some or all of their testimony should be restricted to protect White House discussions with prosecutors and grand juries.

Attorney General Merrick Garland tapped Smith to serve as a special counsel shortly after the midterm elections in November and after Trump announced he would run for president in 2024. Smith’s order only covers January 6-related matters and does not include the alleged interference. With the 2020 presidential election, but also the presence of various documents with classification markings at Trump’s Florida home.

Josh Gerstein and Meredith McGrath contributed to this report.