Jan. 6 committee pushes back after Pence says he won’t testify

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(WASHINGTON) -- Former Vice President Mike Pence said this week that he's not going to testify before the House Jan. 6 committee, claiming that doing so would violate the separation of powers between Congress and the White House.

Pence, on a media blitz to promote his new memoir, told CBS News that he was "closing the door" on speaking before the panel after previously stating that he'd consider it.

"The Congress has no right to my testimony," Pence said. "We have a separation of powers under the Constitution of the United States. 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."

Pence, though now adamant against sitting before the committee, said he otherwise expects to speak about the Jan. 6 attack "to some degree for the rest of my life" and has been doing so in interviews or town halls with ABC, CBS, CNN and others.

As then-vice president, Pence was at the U.S. Capitol when rioters breached the building and was forced to hide at an underground location for hours before Congress was able to certify President Joe Biden's electoral victory.

Pence has been praised repeatedly by committee members for standing up to former President Donald Trump's pressure campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential race.

Pence hasn't minced words of late when it comes to Trump's behavior, telling ABC News' David Muir earlier this week that Trump's words on Jan. 6 were "reckless" and endangered his life and the lives of others.

In an exclusive interview, Pence told Muir about the first discussion he had with Trump in the aftermath of the insurrection, about whether he regretted his own rhetoric in the aftermath of the election and why Trump wasn't taking calls during the riot.

Pence has also recently delivered critiques of the Jan. 6 panel. Speaking with CBS, he accused the committee of being partisan.

Committee chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and vice chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., pushed back on Pence in a statement on Wednesday.

"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 two lawmakers said.

Thompson and Cheney said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had the opportunity to appoint Republicans to the panel but chose not to. The two Republicans who serve on the committee -- Cheney and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, both vocal Trump critics and departing members of the House -- were appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"The Select Committee has consistently praised the former Vice President's refusal to bow to former President Trump's pressure to illegally refuse to count electoral votes on January 6th," Thompson and Cheney said. "But his recent statements about the Select Committee are not accurate."

The committee has not subpoenaed Pence but has subpoenaed Trump for documents and testimony in a historic move.

Trump sued to block the subpoena and the committee has since said it's evaluating all of its options to try and compel his participation.

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