Trump botches a crucial part of Mike Pence’s book in defence of the fake elector plot

A failed effort to send so-called ‘alternate’ electors to Congress is central to two sweeping indictments

Alex Woodward
Wednesday 16 August 2023 16:33 BST
Donald Trump indicted for fourth time

Donald Trump conveniently left out several crucial paragraphs when he quoted from Mike Pence’s book in the latest defence of his attempts to subvert 2020 election results.

Attorneys and allies for Mr Trump, who now faces two sweeping criminal indictments surrounding an alleged conspiracy to remain in the White House, continue to raise legally dubious arguments to support a so-called “alternate” elector plot that would replace electors for Joe Biden in states that Mr Trump lost with a fraudulent slate to be approved by Congress.

Lawyers who promoted a “theory” to support the scheme from the fringes of right-wing academia into Trump’s campaign and the White House are now the former president’s co-defendants in Georgia. Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court confirmed the theory as bogus.

Still, in a post on his Truth Social, Mr Trump hailed “Big News!” and shared a brief excerpt from the former vice president’s 2022 autobiography So Help Me God that Mr Trump appeared to suggest backs up his claims that the fake elector plot was legally sound.

He quoted a sentence from the book suggesting that “Congress always receives miscellaneous slates of electors every four years.”

Mr Trump, quoting far-right Newsmax host Greg Kelly, claimed Mr Pence’s statement is “a game changer” and “turns upside down everything the Democrats said” about the federal case against him.

But that’s not what happened, according to Mr Pence.

The outcomes of presidential elections rest on slates of electors who decide their votes based on the outcome of their states’ popular vote. In his Truth Social post, Mr Trump’s excerpt leaves out several paragraphs about Mr Pence’s meeting with the Senate parliamentarian in the days before he was set to preside over a joint session of Congress to formally certify those electors’ votes.

Then-President Trump had repeatedly pressured Mr Pence to accept a scheme that would allow Mr Trump’s allies in contested states to send fraudulent slates of electors, ultimately rejecting what represented millions of Americans’ votes.

Mr Trump told him at one point that “if you wimp out, you’re just another nobody,” according to Mr Pence’s book.

“I asked her a direct question: ‘Are there any alternate electors from any state?’” he wrote.

“She told me there were not.”

He added: “I mentioned that I had heard that some alternate electors had been sent from several disputed states, and she told me that Congress always received miscellaneous slates of electors every four years, but that there was not alternate slates bearing what was known as a certificate of election from any competing state authority from any of the disputed states.”

“‘We should say that,’ I told her,” Mr Pence wrote.

He added: “She seemed surprised. The ‘script’ for the proceedings had been used for decades without any changes. But given the controversy surrounding this election, I thought we should make clear in the record that there were no alternate electors, and she agreed to draft the language.”

That additional language was “a formal way of confirming, in the Congressional Record forever, that there were no alternate electors from any state in the 2020 election,” according to Mr Pence.

“I thought it would help calm the waters around the impending proceedings,” he wrote. “It did not.”

The purpose of sending fraudulent electors to Congress was an attempt to sow chaos and delay the certification of Mr Biden’s victory, allowing Mr Trump and his allies to buy time and kick back the results to state legislatures, where they could dispute the outcome, according to federal prosecutors and the results of the House select committee’s investigation into the events surrounding January 6.

“The purpose of having the electoral votes sent in to Congress is to provide the opportunity to debate the election irregularities in Congress,” Trump-allied lawyer and now co-defendant Kenneth Chesebro wrote in an email obtained by the committee, “and to keep alive the possibility that the votes could be flipped to Trump.”

In remarks at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Indianapolis on 16 August, Mr Pence shot down Mr Trump’s statements.

“Despite what the former president and his allies have said for now more than two and a half years and continue to insist … the Georgia election was not stolen, and I had no right to overturn the election,” he said. “No one is above law ... and the president and all those implicated are entitled to the presumption of innocence.”

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