A Secret Service agent will have to answer questions about the location of then-Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6, 2021, during questioning in an upcoming trial of a defendant, a judge ruled on March 18.
U.S. prosecutors moved in January to bar lawyers for Couy Griffin, the defendant, from asking questions about Pence’s location, arguing that the information isn’t relevant to the case.
Lawyers for Griffin asserted the questions should be allowed because the government’s earlier claims that Vice President Kamala Harris was in the U.S. Capitol when Griffin entered the building on Jan. 6 were false and because it’s not clear where exactly Pence went after being evacuated from the Senate chamber that day.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, sided with the defendant.
The latest version of the charges say Griffin entered and remained in a restricted building and grounds, or the Capitol and the surrounding area, where Pence was.
“Whether the Vice President was present on the Capitol grounds is thus an essential question in Griffin’s prosecution,” McFadden wrote in an order.
The U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment guarantees a person accused of a crime to confront witnesses, meaning Griffin, through his lawyers, must be allowed to cross-examine the agent about Pence’s location, according to the judge.
“To mount a meaningful defense Griffin must be allowed to test the veracity of the government’s contention that Vice President Pence was on the Capitol grounds during the relevant period,” he said.
The U.S. government has said Pence left the Senate chamber at approximately 2:20 p.m. on Jan. 6, shortly after the first protesters and rioters barged into the building. Prosecutors have alleged Pence went to “a secure location within the Capitol complex” before returning to the chamber about four hours later.
Harris was not in the building or on the grounds from before noon until 7 p.m., prosecutors recently acknowledged.
Griffin is accused of entering the Capitol at approximately 2:28 p.m. on Jan. 6.
McFadden, who has admonished prosecutors over falsely stating Harris was in the Capitol on Jan. 6 when it was breached, noted that it took prosecutors more than a year after the breach to correct the false information in Griffin’s case.
“The government has never explained how it got such a basic fact so wrong for so long. Presumably, it was relying on representations—and in felony cases, grand jury testimony—of Secret Service personnel. Given all that, Griffin may probe the government’s evidence as to the location of Vice President Pence,” he said.
A Department of Justice spokesperson declined to comment.
“We typically do not comment on pending cases and have no comment on this particular matter,” the spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.
A lawyer for Griffin didn’t return an inquiry.
Griffin is facing two charges: entering and remaining in a restricted building and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building.
Griffin is set to become the second Jan. 6 defendant to go on trial. A jury convicted the first defendant to go on trial, Guy Wesley Reffitt, of five counts on March 8.
Griffin opted for a bench trial, meaning McFadden will make a judgment on the charges.
The bench trial is slated to start on March 21.