President Trump is heaping the pressure on Mike Pence ahead of a joint session of Congress where the vice president will preside over challenges to the Electoral College vote in several states.
Trump in a Tuesday tweet suggested he believes that Pence should overturn the results in some states by rejecting chosen electors, a power the vice president doesn't have in what is largely a ceremonial role.
In the tweet, Trump claimed incorrectly that Pence “has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.” The Constitution does not grant the vice president such power.
Congress could reject the results of a state's Electoral College vote, but it would require majorities in both chambers. There are not enough votes to overturn the results in either chamber given opposition from Democrats and many Republicans.
A federal judge in Texas last week dismissed a far-fetched effort by Rep. Louie Gohmert (Texas) and other Republicans that aimed to give Pence the legal authority to effectively overturn the election results. Pence, represented by a Justice Department attorney, had asked that the judge dismiss the suit, saying the vice president’s office was not the proper defendant.
There has not been an indication that Pence plans to deviate from normal procedure in overseeing the certification on Wednesday, but the process promises to be an unusually dramatic day in Washington.
Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the election was “rigged” against him and rife with fraud have divided the GOP.
Several Republicans have criticized his rhetoric and acknowledged Biden as the winner of the election. More on Tuesday also said they would not join plans by their colleagues to object to the Electoral College results, including senior GOP Sens. John Cornyn (Texas) and James Inhofe (Okla.).
“Objecting to certified electoral votes won't give the president a second term,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who has opposed the efforts to challenge the results, wrote in an op-ed published by the Arkansas Democratic Gazette Tuesday.
“With Democrats in control of the House, Republicans have no chance of invalidating even a single electoral vote, much less enough votes to deny Joe Biden a majority in the electoral college. Instead, these objections would exceed Congress' constitutional power, while creating unwise precedents that Democrats could abuse the next time they are in power,” Cotton wrote.
Still, some Republicans, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), have laid plans to object to the results. Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short said in a statement Saturday that the vice president “welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people on January 6th.”
Meanwhile, Trump has indicated he plans to appear at the protests in Washington, D.C., taking place the same day as the Electoral College certification. Supporters of the president are flocking to the nation’s capital to participate in demonstrations, causing D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) to activate the National Guard.
Trump began his pressure campaign targeting Pence during a rally in Georgia on Monday evening intended to boost Republicans David Perdue — whose Senate term ended Sunday — and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (Ga.) on the eve of the Senate runoffs in the Peach State.
“I hope that Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you. I hope that our great vice president, our great vice president comes through for us. He’s a great guy,” Trump told a crowd of supporters in Dalton, Ga.
“Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much,” Trump continued. “Nah, Mike is a great guy. He’s a wonderful man and a smart man and a man that I like a lot.”
Trump’s divisive rhetoric on the election has caused Republican to fear that it could cost them the Senate elections in Georgia, which will determine the Senate majority for the next two years. Trump has endured a mountain of criticism after he pressured Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes to overturn his loss in a Saturday call that was leaked to the press.