In the days leading up to the joint session, Trump lobbied his vice president to remove voters from warring states who voted for Biden to override the will of the voters in a desperate and futile attempt to undo President-elect Joe’s victory. Biden in the November elections. .
“All Vice President Pence has to do is send him back to the states to recertify him and we will become president and you are the happiest people,” Trump said, repeating a falsehood that he has been promoting before the session of the Congress.
Trump repeatedly pressured Pence to act during his more than 75-minute speech to his supporters. “Mike Pence will have to help us,” Trump said, “and if he doesn’t, it will be a sad day for our country.”
Shortly before the joint session began at 1 p.m. and even as Trump continued his verbal harangue, Pence made it clear in a three-page letter that he would follow the Constitution, not the commander-in-chief. As Trump spoke, Pence’s caravan took him through heavily secured Washington to the Capitol, where thousands of Trump supporters marched.
Vice President Pence does not have unilateral power under the Constitution and the rules of Congress that govern the count. It is up to the House and Senate to voice objections, and state voters were elected in accordance with state law, not fraudulently.
Beginning at 1 pm, Mr. Pence began opening each state’s electoral vote certificates and presenting them to the designated House and Senate “tellers” in alphabetical order. At the end of the count, Pence, seated in the House of Representatives rostrum, is tasked with announcing who has obtained the most votes for both president and vice president.
Despite his largely ceremonial assignment, Pence has faced intense pressure from the president and legions of supporters who want the vice president to seize the moment to overturn the will of the voters in a handful of battle states.
Pence told Trump during their weekly lunch in the West Wing on Tuesday that he did not believe he had the power to unilaterally revoke electoral votes, according to a person briefed on the face-to-face conversation. This person was not authorized to publicly discuss the private discussion, which was first reported by The New York Times, and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Trump denied the report in a statement Tuesday night in which he continued to falsely claim that Pence has powers that he does not have. But the vice president, whose office declined to discuss his plans, was not expected to comply with Trump’s request to topple voters, acknowledging that he does not have such unilateral power.
Pence has spent hours with Senate staff and MP to prepare for Wednesday’s joint session, including studying the Election Counting Act of 1887, which governs procedures, and relevant legal opinions.
By fulfilling one of the few formal responsibilities of the vice presidency, Pence risks compromising his own political future. Pence is considering a run for the White House in 2024 and is relying on his years of loyalty to Trump, who could be a political kingmaker for years to come, to help him excel in what is expected to be a crowded field.
Despite claims by Trump and his allies, there was no widespread fraud in the election. This has been confirmed by a number of election officials and by William Barr, who resigned as attorney general last month. Neither Trump nor any of the lawmakers who promised to object to the count have presented credible evidence changing the result.
However, more than 100 House Republicans and a dozen Senate Republicans have said they will challenge the electoral votes of at least one state. Majorities in both houses must reject the will of the voters, but enough Republican lawmakers have said they will join with Democrats in rejecting the latest measure by Trump allies.