Despite pressure from President Donald Trump to help overturn his election loss, Vice President Mike Pence will stick to his ceremonial duties and not block the certification by Congress of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, advisers said.
“The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Trump tweeted Tuesday, keeping up the pressure on Pence even though the vice president’s role as laid out by the Constitution does not give him that power.
There are also no “fraudulently chosen electors”; each state has certified its results and sent electors to the Electoral College, which confirmed Biden’s win last month.
Yet, it wasn’t until just mid-day Tuesday that Pence and his office openly confirmed that he would even show up Wednesday — despite previously privately indicating he would — when his chief of staff, Marc Short, told ABC News that Pence did, indeed, plan to preside.
At one point during the day Tuesday, Pence told Trump he does not have the power to reverse the outcome of the November election when he presides over the joint session, two sources familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News, in a development first reported by the New York Times.
Trump on Monday had made clear to Pence privately that he expected him to use his role as president of the Senate to deny Biden the presidency during the joint session, in which both houses will count each state’s electoral votes and reaffirm Biden’s win, according to a person familiar with their conversation.
Trump met with Pence in the Oval Office before flying to Georgia for a campaign rally where he publicly pressured the vice president. They met in the Oval Office again on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the meeting.
“I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you,” Trump said Monday night in Georgia. “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 quite as much.”
The vice president’s role as laid out by the Constitution and a 19th-century law is ceremonial, though, and Pence has no real power beyond reading a script, opening envelopes that show states’ electoral votes and announcing Biden as the winner.
Pence has spent a significant amount of time meeting with the Senate parliamentarian, and those close to him say he’s unlikely to divert from that scripted role.