Several prominent Republican lawmakers had discussions with the White House about how to legally prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election over concerns of voter fraud, according to testimony by a former White House staffer.
In the weeks leading up to the certification of the 2020 election by Congress, many Republicans continued to express concerns that the results had been swayed by voter fraud.
According to testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, a special assistant during the Trump administration, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), and other members of the House Freedom Caucus met with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to discuss ways to hold off the certification of state electoral votes in the House.
One main strategy they discussed was to have Vice President Mike Pence refuse to accept the votes from battleground states where the results were contested, including states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona.
Under the guidelines of the 12th Amendment, the vice president, who serves as president of the Senate, plays an ambiguous and much-debated role in the final certification of election results by opening the state returns to be counted.
“The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted,” the text of the Constitution reads.
According to Hutchinson, several Republican lawmakers had closed-door meetings with White House counsel to discuss the feasibility of Pence delaying the certification. Jordan would “dial into meetings frequently” over the phone to discuss the plan, Hutchinson noted.
“They felt that he had the authority to—pardon me if my phrasing isn’t correct on this, but—send votes back to the states or the electors back to the states,” she said, according to a partial transcript of her March 7 testimony (pdf), which was released to the public on April 22.
Ultimately, Pence didn’t send any results back to the states, despite persistent efforts by some lawmakers to push him toward it, paving the way for Joe Biden to be officially certified as president by Congress.
In the text messages revealed by the Jan. 6 Commission, congressional investigators suggested that efforts to sway Pence had continued until the day of certification.
“I have pushed for this. Not sure it is going to happen,” Meadows texted Jordan on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021.
The legal issue underlying the efforts to delay certification via the vice president remains controversial.
Democrats and other opponents of the effort have said that the vice president’s electoral role is only a “ceremonial,” and they’ve accused Republican supporters of trying to hijack power. Supporters of the plan have said the strategy, although an uncommon one, was entirely within the bounds of the Constitution.
However, legal experts remain divided on whether the strategy was even practicable under the limits of the 12th Amendment.
Several of those involved in the alleged efforts, including Meadows, Jordan, and Perry, have been summoned before the Jan. 6 Committee in the past, but each has refused the summons, citing concern that the investigation was biased.
While Meadows originally acceded to some requests for documents from the committee, he later cut ties with the panel, citing a right to executive privilege as a member of the White House. Litigation over this claim is continuing.
Leaders of the Jan. 6 Committee have called for Meadows to increase his cooperation with the probe in the wake of Hutchinson’s allegations.
“It’s essential that the American people fully understand Mr. Meadows’s role in events before, on, and after January 6th,” Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in a written statement.
Meadows and other lawmakers identified in the texts didn’t respond by press time to requests by The Epoch Times for comment.