Mike Pence’s former adviser said she believes the Justice Department’s subpoena serves as a “security blanket” for the former vice president as he’s reportedly mulling a 2024 presidential run.
Olivia Troye, former Homeland Security adviser and counter terror adviser for Pence during his time at the White House, said in an interview on MSNBC Saturday that the DOJ subpoena, viewed as the most aggressive step taken so far in investigations into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, gives the former vice president some “political top cover.”
“I do think he has an intention to run, and with the subpoena I think it gives him political top cover. This is sort of the security blanket that I think Mike Pence has been looking for in terms of coming forward and actually talking about what really happened in a very honest and truthful way behind closed doors,” Troye said. “And then publicly, he can say, ‘look, I was compelled legally. I didn’t willingly do this.’ And he has some political top cover there for the base of the Republican Party. Although, I feel like that base is gone. Although in his calculation, maybe he still thinks that he can win them back.”
On Friday, the FBI discovered an additional document with classified markings at Pence ’s Indiana home following the discovery by his lawyers last month of sensitive government documents there. The search, described as consensual after negotiations between Pence’s representatives and the DOJ, comes after he was subpoenaed in a separate investigation into efforts by Trump to overturn the 2020 election.
Pence is the latest official in Trump’s administration to be subpoenaed as part of the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation, but Pence is the highest-ranking official known to have been summoned. The subpoena issued by special counsel Jack Smith, sets the stage for a potential dispute over executive privilege.
In a sit-down interview in November with CBS News host Margaret Brennan, Pence said explained his decision not to testify before the House selection committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.
“Congress has no right to my testimony,” Pence said then. “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 deliberations that took place at the White House.”
“I’m closing the door on that,” Pence added at the time. “I must say again, the partisan nature of the Jan. 6 committee has been a disappointment to me.”
Troye speculated Saturday that she thinks Pence is more likely to cooperate with the DOJ.
“I think in his head, in his perspective, he thought that the Jan. 6 committee was too political. And I think that was the excuse that he used,” Troye told MSNBC. “Now granted, I personally believe completely differently. I think he should have been forthcoming. I think he should want to willingly tell the American people the truth about just how bad the situation was. But in some ways, it’s a political advantage.
“If DOJ, you know, takes Donald Trump out of the running, that works in Mike Pence’s favor,” she added. “And I’m sure that is part of the calculus going to the Pence team. It’s not like they are not thinking about that strategic bigger picture in the long run.”
It’s not clear if Trump and Pence’s legal teams will coordinate on a response to the DOJ subpoena. Pence has been represented by veteran attorney Emmet Flood, whom Troy described as an “executive privilege hawk.”
If Pence ultimately does not wish to comply with the subpoena, he may look for Trump to intervene by invoking executive privilege, according to The Associated Press. Such an action could result in closed-door arguments before the D.C. court’s chief federal judge, Beryl Howell.
“Let’s be honest. Pence has been stalling to tell the truth and really talk about this for over two years now. That’s how long it’s been. And they continue to stall this process,” Troye said Saturday.
Pence is now the third current or former top U.S. official, joining Trump and current President Joe Biden, to have their homes scoured by FBI agents for classified records.
Pence and Biden have presented themselves as fully cooperative compared to the Justice Department having to secure a warrant to raid Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago in Florida last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.