Whether at rallies or on Twitter, President Donald Trump has urged Vice President Mike Pence, the President of the Senate, to do something—anything—that will help the 45th president remain in office for another four years. That’s just not going to happen, and President Trump asserting that Pence has the “power” to make it happen on Wednesday, Jan. 6 is false.
“The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday, apparently oblivious of recent developments in the courts. Let’s be clear: There are no “competing” or “alternative electors”; the election results in every U.S. state have been certified and the Electoral College votes for Joe Biden have been cast. The Twelfth Amendment says that the VP, as President of the Senate, “shall […] open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.”
Legal experts were clear on the subject in response to Trump’s tweet.
At a Monday rally in Georgia, Vice President Pence pretty much outlined the extent of his “power” when he said that complaints would be heard on Jan. 6. It’s worth paying attention to what he did and did not say.
What Pence said:
I promise you, come this Wednesday, we’ll have our day in Congress. We’ll hear the objections. We’ll hear the evidence.
What Pence did not say:
I have the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.
At the rally, Pence urged Trump supporters to vote in the Senate runoff elections. A person could be heard responding, “We need you do the right thing January 6,” highlighting that the president’s voters do, indeed, think Pence can do something significant.
President Trump catered to this even more by saying at the rally, “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you.” The crowd cheered.
“I hope that our great vice president—our great vice president, comes through for us. He’s a great guy. Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him as much,” Trump said, laughing. “Nah, Mike is a great guy he’s a wonderful man and a smart man and a man that I like a lot.”
To be able to reject so-called “fraudulent” electors, whatever that means, would constitute a unilateral power for Pence or any vice president to ignore or throw out exactly the number of electoral votes needed to ensure his or her own reelection, thereby (as Republican Sen. Tom Cotton points out) abolishing the Electoral College in effect and rendering the vote of the American people irrelevant.
By asserting—repeatedly and in crowded public places—that Pence has a power that Pence does not have, Trump has created a situation where Pence will be left holding the bag. Pence will be remembered by millions of the president’s supporters as the guy who did not do something that he could not do.
[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.