Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday he will not follow President Donald Trump’s demand that he overturn the election, vowing he will heed to the constitution, adding ‘So Help Me God.’
Pence sent a letter to the 535 senators and representatives on Capitol Hill ahead of his presiding over the Joint Session that will certify Joe Biden’s victory.
In it, he outlined his belief in his role in the proceedings, which he notes is ‘ceremonial’ and adds that it doesn’t include the authority to ‘determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.’
His declaration came as President Trump has repeatedly pressured him to overthrow the electoral college results, which Biden won 306 to Trump’s 232. Trump has tried to put the blame on Pence for his expected loss on Wednesday but the president also lacks support among the majority of senators in his own party, which dooms his efforts for a congressional overthrow of the results.
Vice President Mike Pence has refused to follow Donald Trump’s demand to overturn the electoral college results and certify Joe Biden’s election victory
President Donald Trump threatened Vice President Mike Pence telling him to overturn the general election results shortly before Congress s was to begin counting the electoral votes that will make Joe Biden the next president
In a letter Wednesday, Pence said, ‘It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution contains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.
Trump addressed his thousands of his supporters near the White House Wednesday at his ‘Save America’ rally and declared war on his own party, calling Republicans who opposed him ‘weak’
Hours after a humiliating defeat in one Georgia Senate race and the prospect of losing another, Team Trump showed no sign of conceding
A crowd of Trump supporters started gathering outside of the White House for a rally on Wednesday
A stand was being erected at the base of the US Capitol as a pro-Trump supporter holds a flag, hours before Congress meets to certify the electoral college vote for Biden
Pence acknowledged Trump’s allegations the election was rigged, which there has been no proof and no court has upheld, in a likely peace offering to the president.
‘I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of this election,’ he wrote.
But he noted as vice president he does not have the power from the constitution to decide which electoral votes are counted and which are not.
‘As a student of history who loves the constitution and reveres its Framers, I do not believe that the Founds of our country intended to invest the vice president with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress and no Vice President in American history has ever asserted such authority,’ Pence noted.
He added vice presidents in the past have conducted ‘the proceedings in an orderly manner even where the count resulted in the defeat of their party or their own candidacy.’
‘It is my considered judgement 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,’ he saidHe concluded his letter with a prayer to God: ‘When the Joint Session of Congress convenes today, I will do my duty to see to it that we open the certificates of electors of the several states, we hear objections raised by Senators and Representatives, and we count the votes of the Electoral College for President and Vice President in a manner consistent with our Constitution, laws and history. So Help Me God.’
This came after President Donald Trump excoriated ‘weak’ Republicans and demanded fealty from Pence to a rally crowd near the White House Wednesday where he demanded Pence and Congress overturn the election results that lead to his defeat.
In an extraordinary speech, Trump once again called his election ‘rigged’ just minutes before a joint meeting of Congress was to begin counting the certified electoral votes that have him losing to Democrat Joe Biden.
He referred to votes that came in after 10pm election night – which consisted of in-person and mail-in ballots and denied him the lead he said he and his pollsters anticipated – as ‘these explosions of bullsh*t.’
Members of the crowd immediately chanted ‘Bullshi*t!’ in response.
‘Our election was over at 10:00 in the evening,’ Trump said.
Trump mocked his party’s 2012 Republican presidential nominee, now-Sen. Mitt Romney, for conceded his own race back then.
‘We will never concede. It doesn’t happen,’ he said – although losing candidates have conceded for generations. ‘There’s never been anything like this. It’s a pure theft.’
Trump’s comments amounted to a declaration of war on elements of his party, after his lawyer Rudy Giuliani demanded ‘trial by combat’ against opponents of his claims of election fraud.
Trump spoke to a crowd of several thousand – but referred to them as consisting of ‘hundreds of thousands’ of supporters fathered on a lawn south of the White House that doesn’t hold that many.
He said his election was ‘stolen by the fake news media. That’s what they’ve done and that’s what they’re doing.’
He urged his supporters to march down to the Congress, which was to commence the count at 1 pm.
‘We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,’ he said, speaking from behind a pane of bullet-proof material.
He turned up the heat on Pence, a potential 2024 contender who will preside over the count. His role is set in the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act, and is largely ceremonial.
‘Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution,’ he said.
Trump acknowledged that he has tried to pressure Pence into rejecting votes from states he lost, quoting from a conversation he has denied happened.
‘All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to re-certify and we become president and you are the happiest people,’ he told his fans, who cheered ‘Stop the Steal!’ at times.
‘I said Mike, that doesn’t take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage. And then we’re stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot and we have to live with that,’ he said of Biden.
Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani once again raised allegations of widespread election fraud – which he said also occurred in the Georgia Senate runoff elections
‘If we’re wrong we will be made fools of, but if we’re right a lot of them will go to jail. Let’s have trial by combat,’ he said, without explaining exactly what he meant by combat
Donald Trump Jr, the president’s eldest son, demanded that Republican Party lawmakers in Congress ‘be the hero, not the zero’ and refuse to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory
Thousands of supporters of President Trump are seen above near the Washington Monument for the ‘Save America’ rally on Wednesday
Trump touted his own vote total, but denied Biden’s was real.
‘And by the way, does anybody believe that Joe had 80 million votes?’ Trump asked rhetorically. ‘Does anybody believe that? He had 80 million computer votes. It’s a disgrace,’ Trump said.
His mention of the pandemic came in terms of his own race, where millions voted by mail as thousands battled infections in a year more than 300,000 Americans died of COVID-19.
‘They’ve used the pandemic as a way of defrauding the people in a proper election,’ Trump said.
‘Eight weeks. I want to go back eight weeks. Let’s go back eight weeks,’ he mused at one point, as he described a conversation with an unnamed official who told him that he would be lock to win in 2024.
Trump repeatedly couched his demands not as an effort to overturn the votes of the people, but as a legal effort.
‘Somebody says: Well we have to obey the Constitution,’ Trump said. ‘And you are, because you’re protecting our country and you’re protecting the Constitution so you are,’ he said.
He said it would protect the country from having what he called ‘an illegitimate president.’
‘The states were defrauded. They were given false information,’ Trump claimed.
During various tangents, he complained about how he is treated on social media, such as when ‘I get a flag’ on his tweets. ‘I don’t care about Twitter, Twitter’s bad news, he said afterward.
He went after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell several times, including for not going along with his proposal to change communications laws.
‘I helped Mitch get elected,’ he said of the longtime incumbent.
‘And then all of a sudden you have something like this,’ he said, going after ‘weak Republicans’ and ‘pathetic Republicans’ – despite a top official in Georgia blaming him for the likely defeats of two Senate Republican incumbents.
He also called out Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) after her comment that failing to accept the electors certified by states would violate the Constitution.
‘The Liz Cheneys of the world, we’ve got to get rid of them,’ Trump said.
‘Brian Kemp – vote him the hell out of office please,’ Trump said of the Georgia governor.
He said Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger had ‘no clue’ what was going on, but then said ‘maybe’ he was with the other side – the Democrats.
‘I can’t believe this guy was a Republican,’ said Trump. ‘He loves recording telephone conversations,’ Trump said – mentioning a leaked call where Trump can be heard asking him to ‘find’ 11,780 votes to make him the winner.
‘People love that conversation, because it says what’s going on,’ Trump said.
Donald Trump Jr (left), the president’s eldest son, kisses his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle (right), before addressing the rally on Wednesday
Donald Trump Jr., claimed there were 100,000 people there but images showed far fewer and he bashed elected Republicans who have refused to go along with his father’s claims of frau
Trump also complained about the Supreme Court, which failed to take up a Texas lawsuit he sought to join, and even his former attorney general Bill Barr, who said before leaving his post there wasn’t sufficient fraud to change the outcome.
‘I’m not happy with the Supreme Court. They look to rule against me. I picked three people. I fought like hell for one in particular,’ Trump inveighed.
‘You know I read a story in one of the newspapers recently, how I control the three Supreme Court Justices. I control them. They’re puppets. I read it about Bill Barr – that he’s my personal attorney, that he’ll do anything for me.
‘But he denied pulling Barr’s strings’And I said, you know, it really is genius, because what they do is that, and it makes it really impossible for them to ever give you a victory, because all of a sudden Bill Barr changed if you hadn’t noticed. I like Bill Barr but he changed because he didn’t want to be considered my personal attorney, and the Supreme Court. They ruled against me so much you know why? Because the story is, I haven’t spoken to any of them. Any since virtually they got in, but the story is that they’re my puppet, right, that they’re puppets. And now that the only way they can get out of that – because they hate that it’s not good on the social circuit. And the only way they get out is to rule against Trump. So let’s rule against Trump and they do.’
‘You know I read a story in one of the newspapers recently, how I control the three Supreme Court Justices. I control them. They’re puppets. I read it about Bill Barr – that he’s my personal attorney, that he’ll do anything for me.’
But he denied pulling Barr’s strings’And I said, you know, it really is genius, because what they do is that, and it makes it really impossible for them to ever give you a victory, because all of a sudden Bill Barr changed if you hadn’t noticed. I like Bill Barr but he changed because he didn’t want to be considered my personal attorney, and the Supreme Court. They ruled against me so much you know why? Because the story is, I haven’t spoken to any of them. Any since virtually they got in, but the story is that they’re my puppet, right, that they’re puppets. And now that the only way they can get out of that – because they hate that it’s not good on the social circuit. And the only way they get out is to rule against Trump. So let’s rule against Trump and they do.’
Giuliani said, ‘If we’re wrong we will be made fools of, but if we’re right a lot of them will go to jail. Let’s have trial by combat,’ he said, without explaining exactly what he meant by combat.
‘I’m willing to stake my reputation, the president is willing to stake his reputation on the fact that we’re going to find criminality there,’ said the former New York mayor. Trump and his allies have suffered dozens of losses in state and federal courts with suits charging election fraud.
He spoke to thousands of cheering supporters on the Ellipse south of the White House. A permit was for 30,000 people.
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., claimed there were 100,000 people there but images showed far fewer.
He bashed elected Republicans who have refused to go along with his father’s claims of fraud.
‘The people who did nothing to stop the steal — this gathering should send a message to them. This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party. This is the Republican Party that will put America first,’ he said.
His girlfriend, former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, also spoke.
After claiming fraud in Trump’s election, John Eastman claimed fraud in the count Tuesday night, which allowed Rev. Raphael Warnock to be called as the winner in one runoff and has Democrat Jon Ossoff leading in another.
Explaining how the fraud he claims occurred happened, Eastman said: ‘You know the old way was to have a bunch of ballots sitting in a box under the floor … They put those ballots in a secret folder in the machines, sitting there waiting until they know how many they need … I can now in that machine match those unvoted ballots with an unvoted voter and put them together in the machine. How do we know that happened last night in real time? You saw when it went to 99 per cent of the vote total, and it stopped.’
He pointed to a point late in the vote count while counties were still tabulating votes – a version of Trump’s complaint that he led in early returns on election night in November. Last night, Republicans led until addition in-person votes came in in populous Democratic-leaning counties.
‘That means they were unloading the ballots from that secret folder,’ he claimed.
Eric Trump (right), the president’s son, and his wife, Lara Trump, raise their fists in front of thousands of supporters near the White House on Wednesday
A militia-like group is seen making their way to Trump’s rally on Wednesday morning
Trump supporters gather near the White House and watch the rally on a big screen set up nearby
A woman is seen holding a sign that reads ‘Trump is the party’ as the president’s supporters gather on the Washington Monument grounds
Trump supporters braved cold temperatures in Washington, DC, on Wednesday hours before the start of planned demonstrations
At least 10 people were arrested for gun possession crimes and other violations and others were seen clashing with counter-demonstrators.
One man from North Carolina was detained after he was caught carrying a gun without a license.
The man rode into the capital on a bus which was stopped by police near Ninth Street and Constitution Avenue NW.
Police boarded the bus and confiscated a rifle and a handgun as well as a drum magazine that holds additional ammunition.
Trump was expected to address his supporters later in the morning during a rally on the Ellipse.
Many in the crowd were photographed not wearing masks and gathered in tight quarters, shoulder to shoulder, despite the raging pandemic and the nationwide surge in the number of coronavirus cases.
A Trump supporter is seen with a protective vest decorated with Trump badges at Wednesday’s rally
Trump was expected to address his supporters later in the morning during a rally on the Ellipse, just south of the White House
‘Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!’ Donald Trump turns on Pence telling him to ignore the constitution and refuse to certify Joe Biden’s victory in Congress – which even a White House aide calls ‘shameful’
Trump demanded Pence ignore the constitution and instead ‘return’ swing states‘ slates of electors for Joe Biden to Republican-controlled legislatures who would then submit their own Trump electors.
Pence has no such power to do so – and told Trump that over lunch on Tuesday, the New York Times reported – but Trump doubled down on his demands as thousands of his supporters, some in camouflage, gathered close to the White House.
‘States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!’ Trump tweeted.
At the White House there was shock that Trump would turn so publicly on his ultra-loyal VP.
CNN reported that one aide called attacking the VP ‘shameful,’ amid fears from Pence’s camp that worse was to come.
The tweet was hours before Pence was due to preside over the joint session of Congress which will formally declare Biden the election victor – and as the Republican party adsorbed the shock of being on the brink of losing the Senate.
Trump appeared to concede that the Senate was lost in an all-capitals tweet claiming that Republicans need to keep ‘the power of the veto.’
‘THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, OUR COUNTRY, NEEDS THE PRESIDENCY MORE THAN EVER BEFORE – THE POWER OF THE VETO. STAY STRONG!THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, OUR COUNTRY, NEEDS THE PRESIDENCY MORE THAN EVER BEFORE – THE POWER OF THE VETO. STAY STRONG!’ Trump tweeted.
A move to turn on Pence had been growing in inevitability for days. Axios reported that Trump had no idea that Pence oversaw the certification of the election results – until he learned about it from a television ad by the Lincoln Project, the never-Trump Republican group led by Kellyanne Conway’s husband George.
Tweetstorm turning on Pence: Donald Trump went after his own VP in a tweetstorm
On Tuesday night ABC News’ White House Correspondent Jon Karl reported that Trump was ‘prepared to go after Pence and go after him hard’ if he does not get in line and overturn the election at the special session of Congress which begins at 1pm Wednesday.
That was after Trump slammed as ‘fake news’ the revelation that Pence had told him he was powerless to stop Biden’s win in a statement which was signed only by Trump – and not by his deputy.
‘Decertifying’ the results would plunge the country into a constitutional crisis but Trump claimed that Pence was in ‘total agreement’ that he ‘has the power to act.’
Trump’s statement publicly turned the heat up on Pence after a pressure campaign which has been going on in private for weeks and exploded into the public on Monday night at Trump’s Georgia rally, then on Twitter Tuesday.
‘The New York Times report regarding comments Vice President Pence supposedly made to me today is fake news,’ Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. It was dated 2020.
‘He never said that. The Vice President and I are in total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act.
‘The November 3rd election was corrupt in contested states, and in particular it was not in accordance with the Constitution in that they made large scale changes to election rules and regulations as dictated by local judges and politicians, not by state legislators. This means that it was illegal.
Delivering bad news: Mike Pence was spotted at the White House Tuesday after Trump had tweeted that the vice president could disqualify Electoral College votes. Pence was on his way to tell Trump that he could not
Trying to lighten the blow: Mike Pence told Trump he might attempt to ‘acknowledge’ his claims of fraud – partly driven by his own fear that confirming Joe Biden’s victory will be used against him
Trump’s tweet is false and Pence does not have the power to reject slates of electors
‘Our Vice President has several options under the U.S. Constitution. He can decertify the results or send them back to the states for change and certification.
‘He can also decertify the illegal and corrupt results and send them to the House of Representatives for the one vote for one state tabulation.’
Significantly, however, the statement was not signed by Pence – and the legal claims Trump made appeared to be in line with plans outlined by Rudy Giuliani, not the Senate Parliamentarian who has advised Pence that his powers are limited to confirming the Electoral College votes read out on the floor of Congress.
Trump also tweeted ‘big news from Pennsylvania’ with a copy of a letter sent by Republican state lawmakers to Mitch McConnell and the Republican minority leader in the House asking for certification to be ‘delayed.’
The lawmakers claimed that the election outcome should be put off until after the Supreme Court has considered a Republican challenge to how Pennsylvania’s voting was run – which the justices have scheduled no date to hear, and asked for responses on January 22, after Trump leaves office.
The letter repeats claims about the election which have been dismissed by state and federal courts repeatedly.
That Trump tweeted it shows his level of desperate clutching at straws with Congress all but certain to torpedo his bid to overturn the election as early as Wednesday.
Trump had first wanted Republicans to vote to reject electors from swing states, but a majority of GOP senators have made clear they will not go along with that, making it dead on arrival.
His next attempt is to claim Pence has powers to simply reject votes himself, a claim advanced by Rudy Giuliani and other fringe lawyers but dismissed by constitutional experts as absurd.
Pence was himself reported to have told Trump Tuesday that he was wrong.
He delivered the bad news over lunch, the New York Times reported, sugaring the pill by suggesting he could in some way acknowledge Trump’s discredited claims when he presides over the Senate.
Ahead of the traditionally ceremonial event, President Donald Trump had escalated his pressure campaign on Pence to help him overturn the election results and spend another four years in the White House.
‘The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,’ the president tweeted on Tuesday morning, wrongly stating what Pence can do when he is in the presiding chair.
But shortly after when the two met for their regular lunch, Pence delivered the bad news that he could not.
The New York Times reported that Pence also told Trump to lighten the blow that he would keep ‘studying the issue’ until the joint session begins at 1pm Wednesday.
In fact Pence spent hours this week with the Senate Parliamentarian, who advises senators and the vice president on the rules when they are on the floor of the Senate – or in Pence’s unique case, presiding over the joint session certifying the election.
Truth to power: Donald Trump demanded publicly Monday night at his rally in Georgia and then on Twitter that the vice president aid his campaign to overturn the election. Pence told him Tuesday he could not
Desperation move: Trump’s extraordinary plan to overturn the election through Mike Pence is a final attempt to stop Joe Biden’s victory being confirmed
If a member of the House and Senate both object to one of the state’s slates of electors, the two chambers split to debate the objection for two hours – with Pence presiding over the Senate.
That is when he could offer some ‘acknowledgment’ of Trump’s claims about fraud to ameliorate both the blow to his boss, and the potential for the president to turn on his ultra-loyal deputy in the dying days of the administration, and beyond.
Pence is said to be particularly concerned that his certification of Biden’s victory could be weaponized against him on social media.
His delivery of bad news to Trump came after a lawsuit brought by Louis Gohmert, an ultra-loyalist congressman, which demanded that federal courts say Pence could disqualify electoral college votes was dismissed rapidly by a judge and an appeals court.
That legal move would have offered Pence some cover that he could point to judges as having ruled out the possibility that he could disqualify voters – which no vice president had ever done and which constitutional experts had said was simply legally impossible.
But an ‘acknowledgment’ of Trump’s claims represents a Pyrrhic victory for the president – with Republican senators dealing his campaign to have them vote against approving swing states’ votes a series of blows Tuesday, as more and more said they would not get behind it.
Senators Tim Scott and Jim Inhofe became the latest GOP lawmakers to risk the wrath of Trump with their decision to back Biden – at least 23 Republican senators will vote to certify Biden’s election win
Senators Tim Scott and Jim Inhofe became the latest GOP lawmakers to risk the wrath of Trump with their decision to back Biden.
‘As I read the Constitution, there is no constitutionally viable means for the Congress to overturn an election wherein the states have certified and sent their Electors. Some of my colleagues believe they have found a path, and while our opinions differ, I do not doubt their good intentions to take steps towards stamping out voter fraud,’ Scott said in a statement.
Inhofe also cited the Constitution as his reason.
‘My job on Wednesday is clear, and there are only two things I am permitted to do under the Constitution: ensure the electors are properly certified and count the electoral votes, even when I disagree with the outcome,’ he said in a statement.
More and more Republican senators joined in as the clock ticked toward Wednesday, including Senators Jerry Moran and John Boozman.
Moran said the plan to object would ‘risk undermining our democracy–which is built upon the rule of law and separation of powers.’
And Boozman made a similar argument.
‘Under the Constitution, Congress does not have the legal authority to change the outcome,’ he said. ‘These principles are enshrined in the Constitution to ensure the American people, not the party in control of Congress, have the power to choose their president.’
At least 24 Republican senators will vote to certify Biden’s election win, according to a count by Politico while 13 are supporting Trump. And 14 are undecided. The Senate is short one senator as David Perdue’s term ended January 3rd. The winner of Tuesday’s special election in Georgia will take the seat.
It takes a simple majority of 51 senators to sustain the objection to a state’s electoral college result, upending it.
But with all 48 Democrats unlikely to do so and the 24 Republicans joining them, that’s 72 votes for Biden, leaving Trump’s hopes in the dust.
Senator Ted Cruz, who is leading the objection effort, will challenge the results of Arizona on Wednesday while Senator Kelly Loeffler will likely lead the objection when it comes to the results in her home state of Georgia. Senator Josh Hawley, another GOP leader in the movement, will challenge Pennsylvania’s.
The focus of the objections would be on those three states – down from the original six lawmakers originally discussed.
Even without the outcome highly unlikely to go Trump’s way there is bound to be plenty of fiery floor debate and political theater.
But Trump may not get a mass gathering of Republican lawmakers protesting on the floor.
The House Sergeant at Arms and Capitol physician sent a memo to lawmakers Tuesday evening about the joint session, requesting that ‘access to the Floor of the House will be limited to those Members who are scheduled to speak during the joint session.’
And for Pence, who has walked the tight rope of Trump’s presidency for four years without faltering, what he does Wednesday will be the ultimate loyalty test, at least in the eyes of the president, who is publicly putting on the pressure.
Trump has made it clear he expects his second-in-command to keep him in the White House even if Pence does not legally or constitutionally have the power to do so.
‘I hope Mike Pence comes through for us. He’s a great guy,’ Trump told a campaign rally Monday night in Dalton, Georgia. ‘Of course if he doesn’t come through I won’t like him quite as much.’
READ THE FULL 12th AMENDMENT
The 12th Amendment is the fundamental law behind Congress certifying the election on Wednesday. But it is also one of the most complicated parts of the Constitution, starting with a 202-word multi-clause sentence. Here is its full text.
The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; -The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; -The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.
But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.
And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President-The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice.
But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
Ultimately, Biden is expected to be certified as the winner of the election on Wednesday, which Pence, in his role as president of the Senate, is expected to announce after the certification is complete.
The 12th amendment of the Constitution – along with the Electoral Count Act of 1887 – makes it clear Pence’s role is to make parliamentary rulings. It does not include any power in how Congress counts the electoral votes.
When it comes to a conflict between the House and Senate over whether or not to certify a state’s electoral college count, the Electoral Count Act of 1887 gives the deciding power to the state’s governor and not the vice president, meaning the state’s result will stand and Pence has no legal path to overturning it.
Pence would not be the first vice president to have to preside over his party’s loss of the White House: Richard Nixon, Dan Quayle, Al Gore and Joe Biden all presided over counts that handed them, or their party, a defeat. Biden even gaveled down an effort to object to Trump’s victory when he presided over the electoral count in January 2017.
But Pence is likely the first vice president who will be blamed by his boss for it.
Biden won the electoral college by 306 votes to Trump’s 232. When all is said and done, Biden will be inaugurated the 46th president on January 20th.
Trump, however, has refused to concede the contest. He continues to claim massive voter fraud but has shown no proof of any such thing. His former Attorney General Bill Barr said he saw no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
A report in Roll Call raised questions about what exactly Pence will do Wednesday. The Capitol Hill newspaper quoted Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, the pro temp of the Senate, saying he would be presiding instead of Pence because ‘we don’t expect him to be there.’
But Pence’s office was quick to say the vice president would be present and Grassley’s office quickly clarified the senator was referring to having to take over if Pence needed a break.
It raised questions, however, if Pence would be taking those breaks when things got hot politically speaking.
Pence’s role is to open the states’ sealed certificates in alphabetical order and hand them them to one of four ‘tellers’ — a Republican and a Democrat from each chamber of Congress – who will announce how each state voted.
As each state’s result is read, Pence will ask whether any member of Congress wishes to raise an objection. If an objection is raised from both a House and Senate member, the matter goes to each chamber for two hours of debate and a vote on whether or not to sustain the objection.
As part of his parliamentary duties, it’s Pence who will decide if the objection is valid to warrant the two-hour debate and vote in each chamber.
After the breakout session, lawmakers return to the joint session to continue the roll call of state results. If there is another objection, the process begins all over again.
Given the Democratic control of the House and the fact that many Republican senators don’t support the objections, none are expected to be sustained.
Trump and his allies were hoping enough objections would occur to bring Biden under the 270 mark in the electoral college count – the amount needed to win the presidency.
That would throw the election to the House. Under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, each state congressional delegation gets one vote. While Democrats control the House, Republicans control the majority of state delegations, which is how Trump hopes to be ‘elected.’
Vice President Mike Pence (left) and his Chief of Staff Marc Short stand in the Oval Office before President Donald Trump departs the White House on Monday for a campaign rally in Georgia
While campaigning for Georgia’s Senate candidates in that state on Monday, Pence responded to shouts of the ‘stop the steal’ with this: ‘We all got our doubts about the last election. And I want to assure you, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities. And I promise you, come this Wednesday, we’ll have our day in Congress.’
He made no promises of an outcome.
Other points of pressure are coming Pence’s way.
Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser, claimed inaccurately on Fox News over the weekend that Pence could call for an ’emergency 10-day audit’ of the election returns in the states Trump allies are disputing. Pence does not have that power.
Pence and his chief of staff Marc Short were in the Oval Office with President Trump and other advisers on Monday night before the president left for Georgia to campaign for the two Republican senators on the ballot in Tuesday’s special election.
But most of Trump’s remarks at that rally were about himself.
‘You know I’ve had two elections, I’ve won both of them, it’s amazing,’ Trump said. ‘And I actually did much better in the second one.’
The low down on how Congress certifies the Electoral College vote
At 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Senators and Representatives will gather in the House chamber for a Joint Session of Congress to count and certify the electoral college ballots.
Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump by 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
But the constitution calls for Congress to certify the results, in a process that has become largely procedural. It is very difficult to over turn an election and it has never happened in American history.
Republicans, however, have vowed to object to the electoral college results, dragging out the certification process and putting on a grand display of theater that will likely please the president.
Here’s how the day will play out:
The process is presided over by the president of the Senate, which is Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence will open the states’ sealed certificates in alphabetical order and hand them them to one of four ‘tellers’ — a Republican and a Democrat from each chamber of Congress – who will announce how each state voted.
As each state’s result is read, Pence will ask whether any member of Congress wishes to raise an objection.
At least one member of the House and one member of the Senate must object for the objection to stand. The law also states the objection must be in writing.
If the objection is recognized, the lawmakers go to their respective chambers to debate the matter for up to two hours.
Then the House and Senate each votes on whether to sustain the objection – which would dismiss the state’s votes – or reject the objection.
For a state’s results to be dismissed, majorities of both chambers have to vote to sustain the objection. If one chamber votes to sustain the objection and the other doesn’t, the objection is dismissed and the state’s electoral college results stand.
The Democratically-controlled House is unlikely to support sustaining an objection, meaning the states’ results will stand and Biden will ultimately be declared the winner.
Additionally, the Republican-controlled Senate isn’t likely to vote in favor of an objection, either. The GOP has a slim margin in the upper chamber and a number of Republican senators have voiced their objections to the objection process.
After the objection is voted on by each chamber, the joint session reconvenes and continues with the count. If there’s another objection to a different state’s vote, the process is repeated.
President Trump’s allies are looking at challenging three states: Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, which could go into the early morning hours of Thursday.
‘At the end of the day, which could be the middle of the night, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be officially declared the next President and Vice President of the United States,’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to Democratic House members on Monday.
After the votes are recorded from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the vice president declares who has received the requisite majority of electoral college votes. That announcement finalizes the election.
WHAT IF THE OBJECTIONS ARE SUSTAINED?
If, by some remote chance, an objection is sustained, Trump and his allies hope that will result in the electors being thrown out, ultimately bringing Biden’s electoral count below the 270 needed to win.
If all three state challenges are successful, Biden would have 259 electoral votes, throwing the election to the House of Representatives to select the next president.
Under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, each state congressional delegation gets one vote.
While Democrats control the House, Republicans control the majority of state delegations, which is how Trump hopes to be ‘elected.’
Sources: NBC News, Washington Post, New York Times
‘Don’t argue with fools!’ Top Democrat Cedric Richmond warns party’s reps not to get dragged into debate in Congress over Republicans’ bid to overturn the election results on Wednesday
President Trump‘s demand that Congress overturn the election results in states he lost has provoked a split in his party – and Democratic leaders are now cautioning their own members to steer clear of arguments when the vote gets certified.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat who is joining the incoming Biden administration as director of White House engagement, has told colleagues there isn’t an upside to jumping into a point-by-point clash over Trump’s election fraud claims.
‘You don’t argue with fools, because at a distance you can’t tell who the fool is,’ he said on a party conference call Monday, Politico reported.
‘You don’t argue with fools,’ Representative Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana is urging colleagues
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is mindful of the spectacle that the election challenges could provoke – and wants her members to be ‘dignified’ through the process – although unsubstantiated allegations of widespread fraud by Texas GOP Rep. Louis Goehmert and others is certain to provoke an angry backlash.
The House meets Wednesday in a special joint session to count the Electoral College votes.
The number of Republican senators planning to go along with election challenges grew to 13 at Trump’s Georgia rally when Sen. Kelly Loeffler announced she was behind the effort.
But the leaked recording of Trump’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger may have undermined the Senate GOP efforts by linking claims the lawmakers hitched to the Constitution to the president’s request that Raffensperger ‘find’ 11,780 votes for him.
It was unclear if the explosive call had prompted Senate Republicans to dial back some of their plans and focus on a smaller number of states to launch challenges.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants Democrats to remain dignified as Republicans challenge the election Joe Biden won by 306 to 232 electoral votes
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says he will raise election challenges
President Donald Trump asked Georgia’s secretary of state to ‘find’ 11,780 votes for him
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley (R) was the first senator to say publicly he would back election challenges
Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling debunked many of the president’s ‘fantastical’ claims in a press conference Monday.
GOP strategist Doug Heye told The Hill regarding Trump’s leaked call: ‘The tape now makes it harder for other people to join on. They had a legal process argument that they could make even if it wasn’t the most credible one,’ he continued. ‘The tape blows that out of the water.’
Whatever Democratic leaders caution, rank-and-file Democrats who get opportunities to speak when Republicans raise protests to states’ electoral votes are likely to get heated.
‘It’s treasonous. The fact of the matter is the election results have been certified,’ said Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif. Party leaders are preparing for tense debates on Wednesday
Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) is among those who have erupted at Republicans going along with Trump’s effort.
‘It’s treasonous. The fact of the matter is the election results have been certified,’ he said.
If a House and Senate member object to a state’s certification, each chamber will meet separately for two hours to consider the challenge, where members will give speeches, followed by a vote.
More than 100 House Republicans are expected to back election challenges.