Just over a week ago, former Vice President Mike Pence did something that former President Donald Trump had gone to court to try to prevent him from doing.
Pence, a Columbus native who also is presumably running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, which would pit him against Trump, testified before a federal grand jury in Washington that is investigating efforts by the former president and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, the Associated Press reported. Pence was in the eye of the storm that followed, the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection in our nation’s Capitol.
The decision by Pence to swear the tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God — and then promptly doing so — is critical to understanding the history of that fateful day, what led to it, and the consequences that will flow from it.
It also, God willing, may help ensure that we never again witnesses something that so threatens the very fabric of our American democracy, the peaceful transfer of power.
The period between Trump and Pence’s re-election loss in November 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021 has never been fully investigated. The US House select committee that investigated referred a criminal investigation to the Department of Justice, which appointed special counsel Jack Smith to handle that assignment.
What is known is that during this period, a campaign of lies about election fraud propagated by Trump darkened our nation, casting a shadow over the United States from which we have yet to fully emerge.
The light of truth must prevail. So we commend Pence for testifying and putting any further legal stonewalling behind him. Not long ago, Pence, too, hired lawyers to fight a subpoena from Smith to testify before the grand jury, but something gave Pence a change of heart.
After a judge ordered Pence to testify — with the caveat that Pence would not have to testify about what happened on Jan. 6 while he presided over the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory — the former vice president could have appealed that decision. Pence was wise and courageous to choose instead to honor the rule of law and answer questions about what happened in the days leading up to a mob coming within feet of him as he and lawmakers ran for their lives.
Another judge also had rejected Trump’s effort to block Pence’s testimony on the basis of executive privilege. More appeals could have delayed Pence’s testimony, but he chose to testify before that could have happened.
“We’ll obey the law, we’ll tell the truth,” Pence told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” a few days before he testified. “And the story that I’ve been telling the American people all across the country, the story that I wrote in the pages of my memoir, that’ll be the story I tell in that setting.”
We won’t know precisely what Pence said, or even what he was asked about, until the special counsel acts in public — possibly with criminal charges against Trump and/or others in his circle, possibly not.
What we do know, however, is this: By testifying, Pence fulfilled a duty to his country and to history. Come what may, he did the right thing.