The U.S. Justice Department is attempting to question Pence in a January 6 NYT probe

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The US Justice Department is seeking to question former Vice President Mike Pence as a witness in connection with its criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election, reported the New York Times, citing people familiar with the case.

Pence is open to considering the request, acknowledging that the Justice Department’s investigation differs from the investigation by a House of Representatives committee that also investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

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Thomas Windom, a lead investigator investigating efforts to overturn the election, contacted Pence’s team in the weeks before Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday appointed special counsel to oversee the Jan. 6 investigation and a separate inquiry into Trump’s handling of classified documents, the report added.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

The discussions about the questioning of Pence are in an early stage, according to the newspaper. Pence has not been subpoenaed and the process could take months as Trump could block or delay his testimony by attempting to invoke executive privilege, it added.

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Pence has said he thinks Trump was wrong in believing the former vice president had the power to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election. The election result was certified by Pence and lawmakers when the Capitol was attacked by supporters of Trump, a Republican, after weeks of false claims by the former president that he had won the vote.

Pence previously said he would consider testifying before the congressional committee investigating the attack on the Capitol, but later added that he also believed the panel had “a partisan slur.”

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(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; editing by Chris Reese and Chizu Nomiyama)