Former President Donald Trump late Friday issued a statement in response to former Vice President Mike Pence who, earlier in the day, disagreed with Trump about his role in the electoral vote certification process on Jan. 6.
At a speech to the conservative Federalist Society in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Pence said that the former president was “wrong,” after Trump said on Jan. 30 that Pence “did have the right to change the outcome” of the election.
Pence, as vice president, served as the president of the Senate and presided over the joint session of Congress to count Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, 2021—the final step in the Electoral College system to certifying a president-elect.
“If the Vice President [Mike Pence] had ‘absolutely no right’ to change the Presidential Election results in the Senate, despite fraud and many other irregularities, how come the Democrats and RINO Republicans … are desperately trying to pass legislation that will not allow the Vice President to change the results of the election?” Trump said in a statement.
“Actually, what they are saying, is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power; he could have overturned the Election!” the 45th U.S. president said.
Pence on Friday told the conservative legal group at the event in Orlando: “There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes. And I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election.’
“President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election,” said the former vice president. “The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. Frankly, there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”
He continued, “Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election. And Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024.”
The audience applauded Pence’s line about beating the Democrats in the upcoming presidential election, but remained silent when Pence said earlier that “Trump is wrong,” reported The Associated Press.
Later Friday, Trump issued a statement through his political action committee, Save America, criticizing Pence’s remarks.
“Just saw Mike Pence’s statement on the fact that he had no right to do anything with respect to the Electoral Vote Count, other than being an automatic conveyor belt … to get Biden elected President as quickly as possible,” Trump said.
“Well, the Vice President’s position is not an automatic conveyor if obvious signs of voter fraud or irregularities exist. That’s why the Democrats and RINOs are working feverishly together to change the very law that Mike Pence and his unwitting advisors used on January 6 to say he had no choice.
“The reason they want it changed is because they now say they don’t want the Vice President to have the right to ensure an honest vote,” Trump continued. “In other words, I was right and everyone knows it.
“If there is fraud or large scale irregularities, it would have been appropriate to send those votes back to the legislatures to figure it out. The Dems and RINOs want to take that right away. A great opportunity lost, but not forever, in the meantime our Country is going to hell!”
A group of Democrats and some Republicans, led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has been meeting behind closed doors to discuss potential changes to Electoral Count Act that would make it more difficult to challenge results of a future presidential election, reported The Associated Press. The group hopes to come up with draft legislation in the near future.
Collins told reporters at the Capitol that Trump’s repeated assertions that Pence could have altered the outcome of the election “underscored the need for us to revise the Electoral Count Act, because they demonstrated the confusion in the law and the fact that it is ambiguous.”
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Feb. 1 he is open to the effort, and said the Electoral Count Act “is flawed and it needs to be fixed.”
Leading up to Jan. 6, Republican electors in seven states—Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico—had cast alternative slates of votes for Trump.
Pence presided over the joint session on Jan. 6, where he read out the electoral votes for all 50 states. During the session, Pence did not acknowledge the alternative slates of votes for Trump from the seven states and only read off the certificates for Biden.
At the time, Pence’s office didn’t return an inquiry from The Epoch Times on why he didn’t acknowledge alternate slates.
On Jan. 6, Trump called on Pence to send key battleground states’ electoral results back to state legislatures and he said that if Pence “comes through for us, we will win the Presidency.” Trump also said in a statement the day prior that Pence had “several options” under the U.S. Constitution. “He can decertify the results or send them back to the states for change and certification. He can also decertify the illegal and corrupt results and send them to the House of Representatives for the one vote for one state tabulation,” Trump wrote.
But shortly before the joint session began, Pence indicated he would not reject any disputed electoral votes, saying he lacked the power to do so under the U.S. Constitution.
“Given the controversy surrounding this year’s election, some approach this year’s quadrennial tradition with great expectation, others with dismissive disdain,” Pence said in a statement at the time. “Some believe that as Vice President, I should be able to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally. Others believe that electoral votes should never be challenged in a Joint Session of Congress.
“After a careful study of our Constitution, our laws, and our history, I believe neither view is correct.”
But Pence did support efforts by Republican legislators to object to the certification of electoral votes.
“Given the voting irregularities that took place in our November elections and the disregard of state election statutes by some officials, I welcome the efforts of Senate and House members who have stepped forward to use their authority under the law to raise objections and present evidence,” Pence said in a letter to Congress at the time.
In the afternoon of Jan. 6, a group of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building while lawmakers were debating whether to reject votes for Arizona. It remains unclear exactly what group or groups were behind the breach.
The incident, around 2:15 p.m., forced both congressional chambers to temporarily go into recess, and lawmakers had to shelter in place. The session was delayed for several hours before congress resumed the electoral vote count process around 8 p.m.
Congress ultimately certified the Electoral College votes for Joe Biden in the early hours of Jan. 7, after the chambers debated and voted to reject Republican lawmakers’ challenges to electoral tallies from Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Update: This article has been updated to provide more context about the events of Jan. 6.