Pence Bluntly Defies Trump, Refuses to Block Electoral Votes
Pence just made a dramatic break from Trump.
Vice President Mike Pence has flatly refused President Donald Trump’s demand that he try to block the formal confirmation of Joe Biden’s election as the next president of the United States by Congress, the last step required to declare him president-elect.
Pence’s statement marked a dramatic break with Trump, and came just minutes before the vice president was due to preside over a joint session of Congress to formally declare Biden the winner of the hotly-contested 2020 election.
“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” Pence said in the letter to Congress.
Pence added that the vice president’s role in the process is “largely ceremonial.”
The statement confirms what many election experts, including at the White House, had already determined: that the vice president lacks the Constitutional powers to refuse to accept the certification of individual states’ election results.
The statement came just as Trump was telling participants at a rally outside of the White House that the outgoing vice president was duty-bound to undo Biden’s election victory.
“I just spoke to Mike,” he told the crowd. “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so, I hope so. Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election… I hope he doesn’t listen to the stupid people.”
“Mike Pence will have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, it will be a sad day for our country,” Trump added.
“Mike Pence, I hope you’re gonna stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country, and if you’re not I’m gonna be very disappointed in you, I will tell you right now,” Trump continued. “I’m not hearing good stories.”
Pence’s statement is likely to result in significant blowback to his political aspirations, which run counter to his constitutional responsibilities. Trump’s veiled threats also place his once loyal lieutenant in an intolerably brutal position.
Trump has been entertaining the false claim that Pence has the ability to defy the results of the 2020 election, and that he is able to decertify election results, return them to the states or refer them to the House so that its members could decide the winner.
However, neither the Constitution nor congressional statues grant the vice president such extraordinary powers.
As Pence admitted, the vice president’s role in counting Electoral College votes is clearly delineated by the U.S. Constitution. However, members of Congress do have the ability to formally issue a challenge to the slates of electors presented by each state.
While several Republican legislators have said that they would object to the certification of Biden, however, Trump’s campaign is unlikely to muster nearly enough votes required to overturn the results of the election.
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