Trump turns screws on Pence after ‘tense lunch’ and falsely insists he can block Biden win

‘The Vice President and I are in total agreement that he has the power to act’

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
@AndrewBuncombe
Wednesday 06 January 2021 04:09
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Donald Trump has heaped extra pressure on Mike Pence, insisting he does have the constitutional power to bock Joe Biden’s victory, after the vice president told him he did not.

On Wednesday, Mr Pence is scheduled in his constitutional role, to oversee a joint session of Congress, in which the House and Senate will vote to formally confirm Mr Biden’s victory, a move that represents the final step in the process before his inauguration.

Around 150 Republicans, among them senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, have said they will vote against certification.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported Mr Pence told Mr Trump that while he supported him, it was not within his constitutional powers to block the certification process and derail Mr Biden’s move into the Oval Office.

CNN said the lunch meeting had been “tense”, and that Mr Trump told Mr Pence that not stopping Mr Biden would be politically “damaging”.

Mike Pence heckled at Georgia rally to challenge election result on 6 January

After the story appeared, Mr Trump issued a statement, denouncing the article and saying Mr Pence had not said he could not block decertification.

“The vice president and I are in total agreement that the vice president has the power to act,” he said in a statement.

“The November 3rd election was corrupt in contested states, and in particular it was not in accordance with the constitution in that they made large scale changes to election rules and regulations as dictated by local judges and politicians, not by state legislators. This means that it was illegal.”

He added: “Our vice president has several options under the US 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.”

Mr Trump has made a series of false claims that the election he lost to Mr Biden was rigged against him. More than 60 legal challenges have failed, many of them ruled over by Republican-appointed judges.

Experts also say Mr Pence does not have the power to block the certification process, which typically is a low-key affair.

Mr Trump’s comments, made as the citizens of Georgia voted for two senators in a process that will determine which party controls the US Senate when Mr Biden takes office, had the air of increasing desperation, perhaps realising that Wednesday’s certification is the final step in Mr Biden’s ascendancy to the presidency, ahead of inauguration day.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported a former White House source close to Mr Pence, saying that while the vice president was mindful to be supportive and respectful of the president, he had made clear he could stop proceedings.

“He will be very supportive of the president, but again he'll stick to the Constitution,” said the former official.

“It is a ceremonial role. It is opening up envelopes and reading the contents of it. That’s it.”

Mr Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, said on Monday that the vice president would “uphold the Constitution and follow the statutory law”.

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