President Donald Trump continued to ratchet up political pressure on Mike Pence, and at the same time, parade his apparent ignorance of the ceremonial role the vice president will play in today’s joint session of congress that will certify the results of the Electoral College.
In a 1 A.M. Tweet, after an evening in which it looks like the Democratic Party will take control of the U.S. Senate, Trump proclaimed “If Vice President Mike Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency.” It is not clear, however, how Pence can constitutionally do the thing that Trump is suggesting.
Trump continued: “Many states want to decertify the mistakes they made in certifying incorrect & even fraudulent numbers in a process NOT approved by their State Legislatures (which it must be).” He then added, “Mike can send it back!”
If Vice President @Mike_Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency. Many States want to decertify the mistake they made in certifying incorrect & even fraudulent numbers in a process NOT approved by their State Legislatures (which it must be). Mike can send it back!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Pence has signaled to Trump that he sees no legal role for overturning the election results as Trump seems to suggest. Trump dismissed the report shortly after it was published, saying it was not true and “fake news,” and claimed Pence was in “total agreement with him.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta reported Tuesday night of a tense meeting between Trump and Pence about the Vice President’s role during Wednesday’s certification joint session. “What we’re hearing is that this was a tense meeting between the president and vice president,” Acosta told Jake Tapper. “I’m told by a source familiar with this meeting that when the vice president told the president he does not have to authority to block certification of President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory that the president told the vice president that it could be politically damaging for the vice president to fail to block this certification tomorrow.”
“The word I’m told is damaging, that the president relayed to the vice president should the vice president decide to go ahead and allow this process to go forward tomorrow,” Acosta added, noting that Pence had even been advised by the White House counsel’s office that he does not have the authority to follow through on Trump’s demand for what would be essentially an administrative coup.
Pence has been a remarkably loyal vice president to President Trump and appears to have been rewarded with a political no-win situation. Every past joint session has been presided over by the Vice President, including the 2017 congressional certification in which then-outgoing Vice President Joe Biden dismissed objections put forth by multiple House Democrats.
Pence can ignore constitutional standards and opt to somehow object to the Congressional ceremony, and anger President Trump and his loyal base of MAGA supporters, or he can oversee the peaceful transfer of power between elected administrations, just as every vice president before him has as well.
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