Trump is now calling for Pence to be investigated by January 6 committee

Rambling statement from former president conflates committee’s work with that of entire Democratic caucus

John Bowden
Tuesday 01 February 2022 15:29
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Trump makes election promise to pardon January 6 rioters

Former President Donald Trump issued a rambling, incoherent statement that was filled with nonsense about the 2020 election, the January 6 committee, and a demand for the panel to investigate Mike Pence, his vice president of four years.

In one of the tweet-style statements typical for the former president, Mr Trump on Tuesday demanded to know why the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot was not in fact investigating why Mike Pence did not acquiesce to his demand to interfere in the counting of Electoral College ballots and join his attempts to overthrow the election.

Mr Trump went on to falsely conflate the work of the January 6 committee with a proposal from three Senate Democrats that would clarify the role of the vice president in the counting of the Electoral College vote, and referred to the members of Congress on the House panel as “traitors”.

“So pathetic to watch the Unselect Committee of political hacks, liars, and traitors work so feverishly to alter the Electoral College Act so that a Vice President cannot ensure the honest results of the election,” wrote the former president, using a nickname he has used in the past for the House January 6 panel.

“[T]he Unselect Committee should be investigating why Nancy Pelosi did such a poor job of overseeing security and why Mike Pence did not send back the votes for recertification or approval, in that it has now been shown that he clearly had the right to do so!” he added.

His statement contained a number of errors; very few lawmakers in the House or the Senate, zero of them Democrats or members of the January 6 committee, are willing to openly say that they believe the vice president could halt the certification of an election, and the few who do are Mr Trump’s own diehard loyalists who have been making such claims since before the attack on the US Capitol.

Aside from that, Mr Trump appeared to not understand that the efforts to reform the Electoral Count Act are originating among Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, a panel wholly unrelated to the investigation being undertaken by Democrats and two Republicans on the House select committee.

The former president’s misunderstanding of the Electoral Count Act legislation being pursued by those Democrats was also evident in the statement. The legislation would not change the vice president’s role, merely clarify it, and would raise the threshold for filing and upholding objections to individual states’ results during the Senate’s count of the Electoral College vote.

It also does not amount to lawmakers recognising or acknowledging Mr Trump’s assertion that the Electoral Count Act, passed in 1887, gives the vice president the power to throw out individual states’ election results, or return them to state leglislatures for verification. The former president’s allies hatched a plan to convince Mr Pence to do so in the days following the 2020 election as they saw defeat after defeat in the court system during their efforts to challenge Joe Biden’s victory through legal means.

Still, the former president has in recent days used the Democrats’ efforts to reform the act as an excuse to tear away the veil and openly state that he supported the effort to convince Mr Pence that he had the power to reverse his boss’s defeat. He has also indicated that he is open to issuing pardons for accused participants in the 6 January attack should he return to power.

“[W]hat 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 former president said on Sunday.

Many Republicans, especially in congressional leadership, have sought to move on from 6 January and the attack on the Capitol after uniformly resisting efforts last year to establish a bipartisan commission to review the attack and investigate the role of Mr Trump’s supporters. Some, like Mr Trump, have taken to spreading conspiracies about federal agents supposedly egging the crowd on, or downplayed the severity of the attack itself.

Mr Trump has made that impossible with his near-constant demands for loyalty from GOP politicians, his refusal to drop his false claims about the 2020 election, and suggestions that he will run again in 2024, potentially setting up another scenario in which he and his massive following in the Republican Party refuse to accept valid election results.

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