Vice President Mike Pence reportedly told President Trump Tuesday that he does not possess the power to block the certification of the election — a remark that followed Trump asserting the vice president, who is presiding over Wednesday’s joint session of Congress, has the “power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.”
According to a report from the New York Times, Pence reportedly told Trump “he did not believe he had the power to block congressional certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the presidential election despite Mr. Trump’s baseless insistence that he did, people briefed on the conversation said.”
The report follows an earlier tweet from the president, who said that the vice president “has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors”:
The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2021
Congress will formally count the Electoral College votes on Wednesday. Objections from at least one lawmaker in both the House and Senate would trigger debates in both chambers — a phenomenon that is expected to happen, with over 100 GOP members of the House and over a dozen GOP senators signaling their intention to object to electors in disputed states.
Per the Times:
When the results from all of the states have been considered, Mr. Pence, who as vice president also serves as presiding officer of the Senate, will be called on to read out the Electoral College votes for each candidate, formalizing Mr. Biden’s victory.
Mr. Pence has spent hours with parliamentarians and lawyers in recent days. His allies said they expect him to carry out his constitutional duties on Wednesday.
If Mr. Pence were for some reason unable or unwilling to carry out his role as president of the Senate, that role would fall to Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, the chamber’s longest-serving Republican member.
However, Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said on Saturday that the vice president “welcomes the efforts of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people,” noting that Pence shares “the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities.”
“Some have speculated that the vice president could simply say, ‘I’m not going to accept these electors,’ that he has the authority to do that under the Constitution,” Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said this week, adding “I actually don’t think that’s what the Constitution has in mind.”
“If that were the case, any vice president could refuse any election,” Sekulow said. “It’s more of ministerial procedural function.”
Pence, during a campaign rally in Georgia on Monday, told the crowd that “come this Wednesday, we’ll have our day in Congress. We’ll hear the objections. We’ll hear the evidence.”