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Trump loses appeal to block Pence from testifying about direct communications

President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at Gerald R. Ford International Airport on Nov. 2, 2020, in Grand Rapids, Mich., with Vice President Mike Pence (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CNN) — Former President Donald Trump has lost an emergency attempt to block former Vice President Mike Pence from testifying about their direct conversations, in the latest boost to a federal criminal investigation examining Trump’s and others’ actions after the 2020 election.

The former president has repeatedly tried and failed to close off some answers from witnesses close to him in the special counsel’s investigation. This latest order from the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals likely will usher in Pence’s grand jury testimony quickly — an unprecedented development in modern presidential history.

The unanimous decision, from Judges Patricia Millett, Robert Wilkins and Greg Katsas on the D.C. Circuit, came in a sealed case on Wednesday night that CNN previously identified as Trump’s executive privilege challenge to Pence. Pence is a former Indiana governor.

Trump has tried to block Pence from testifying about their direct communications, even after the former vice president wrote about some of those exchanges and a lower-court judge had ruled against him.

Trump asked the D.C. Circuit for emergency intervention weeks ago. The court refused to put on hold Pence’s subpoena and to override the lower-court ruling, flatly denying Trump’s requests.

Trump could try to appeal again and even press the issue at the Supreme Court. Yet he gave up pushing several past executive privilege challenges to special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation after similar rulings from this court of appeals.

Pence has already said he was not appealing part of a lower court’s decision, and would comply with the subpoena. Judge James Boasberg of the D.C. District Court has acknowledged Pence could have some congressional protections during the time he served as president of the Senate on January 6, 2021. But that ruling does not appear to prevent him from answering questions before the grand jury about his many conversations with Trump from Election Day on, when Trump and his allies were pressuring Pence to block the congressional certification of the vote.

Trump’s conversations with Pence in the days surrounding the U.S. Capitol riot have been of keen interest to investigators probing the attack, and the former vice president wrote in his book that Trump told him he would be a “wimp” on a call the morning of the insurrection.