Vice President Mike Pence announced on Wednesday that he would not block the certification of the 2020 election results as he presides over Congress’ joint session, rejecting President Donald Trump’s push for him to steal the election from President-elect Joe Biden.
“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 in a letter to lawmakers ahead of the session.
A furious Trump attacked the vice president over Twitter in response.
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify,” he tweeted, yet again peddling falsehoods about voter fraud.
The vice president’s announcement came in the middle of Trump’s speech at the so-called “Stop the Steal” protest in D.C., during which the President repeated his demand that Pence use his power to throw out Biden’s Electoral College votes from swing states.
“I hope Mike is going to do the right thing,” Trump said. “If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.”
The New York Times and CNN reported that the vice president warned Trump on Tuesday that he did not have the power to overturn the votes. Trump denied the reports, claiming that he and Pence were in “total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act.”
However, a vice president’s role as presiding officer during the proceedings is largely ceremonial and does not grant them the authority to meddle with the election at their discretion.
At the end of his speech at the protest, Trump urged his supporters to “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue,” prompting them to rush toward the Capitol and crash through the barricades.
Read the letter below: