The House Jan. 6 committee took exception to former Vice President Mike Pence calling the panel “partisan” and saying that he has no interest in providing it with his testimony.
In an interview with CBS that aired on Wednesday, Pence said that it would set a “terrible precedent” for Congress to compel his testimony and that there was an “opportunity lost” when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) handpicked the member of the committee.
“I am closing the door on that,” Pence said of the prospect of appearing before the committee.
“But I must say again, the partisan nature of the January 6 committee has been a disappointment to me,” he added. “It seemed to me in the beginning, there was an opportunity to examine every aspect of what happened on January 6, and to do so more in the spirit of the 9/11 Commission, nonpartisan, nonpolitical, and that was an opportunity lost.”
The former vice president, who was at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021, with his daughter, and remained there for the duration of the riot, has previously said that he believes former President Donald Trump’s actions leading up to the riot were “reckless” and “endangered” him and his family.
“I never stood in the way of senior members of my team cooperating with the committee and testifying,” Pence said Wednesday.
“But Congress has no right to my testimony,” he added. “We have a separation of powers under the Constitution of the United States. And I believe it would establish a terrible precedent for the Congress to summon a vice president of the United States to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House.”
Hours after the interview aired, the leaders of the committee, Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) issued a statement expressing their disappointment in Pence.
“The Select Committee has proceeded respectfully and responsibly in our engagement with Vice President Pence, so it is disappointing that he is misrepresenting the nature of our investigation while giving interviews to promote his new book,” the statement read.
The committee heads also argue that there is nothing “partisan” about the panel and that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) decided to withdraw all his panel nominees after Pelosi rejected a couple of them.
“Our investigation has publicly presented the testimony of more than 50 Republican witnesses, including senior members of the Trump White House, the Trump Campaign, and the Trump Justice Department. This testimony, subject to criminal penalties for lying to Congress, was not ‘partisan.’ It was truthful,” the committee leaders write.
“Leader McCarthy had the opportunity to nominate five members of the Select Committee. Speaker Pelosi initially accepted three of those nominees and invited Leader McCarthy to propose two others. Rather than doing so, McCarthy chose to withdraw all his nominees and refused to participate at all — so that he could make the false claim that the Committee was entirely one-sided,” the statement continues, calling the decision by McCarthy “a cynical choice.”
The committee leaders concluded their statement by noting that they have “consistently praised” Pence for not bowing to Trump on Jan. 6, but that his recent comments are “not accurate.”
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