Pence says he does not have power to overturn election, will not interfere in Electoral College outcome

Politics
Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence finishes a swearing-in ceremony for senators in the Old Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVO) — In a letter to Congress shortly before he was to begin proceeding over a special joint session to count electoral votes, Vice President Mike Pence said he agrees he does not have power to accept or reject votes and would not interfere in the results of the election.

“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,” Pence wrote.

“Our founders were deeply skeptical of concentrations of power and created a Republic based on separation of powers and checks and balances under the Constitution of the United States. Vesting the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide presidential contests would be entirely antithetical to that design,” he continued.

In the days before the joint session, Trump has pressured his vice president to toss electors from battleground states that voted for Biden to overturn the will of voters in a desperate and futile bid to undo President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.

“If Mike Pence does the right thing we win the election,” Trump told thousands of supporters who rallied Wednesday on the Ellipse, just south of the White House, an hour before the count in Congress was to begin.

“All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people,” Trump said, repeating a falsehood he has been promoting leading up to the congressional session.

Trump repeatedly pressured Pence to act during his more than 75-minute speech to supporters. “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us,” Trump said, “and if he doesn’t, it’s a sad day for our country.”

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said overruling presidential election would ‘damage our republic forever.’

Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) said the following: “Congress does not have the power to overturn the will of the people, and any attempt to do so would create a constitutional crisis and set a very dangerous precedent for the future. We cannot let lies and false promises destroy our republic. Instead, we must accept the truth and move forward. There is no proof of widespread voter fraud and thus, nothing to be debated here today.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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