Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday rejected President Donald Trump’s stance that he can unilaterally block President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory in the 2020 election.
“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” Pence wrote to lawmakers in a three-page letter.
Lawmakers are hours away from finalizing President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, turning aside President Donald Trump’s last-ditch effort to reverse his election loss and install himself for a second term.
Trump has unleashed a pressure campaign against Pence in the last 24 hours, falsely declaring that he has the unilateral authority to simply ignore Biden’s certified electors and send the race back to the states.
Though Pence has hinted that he’ll operate in the traditional mold of vice presidents at these crucial transition-of-power sessions, Democrats are preparing contingencies should the vice president diverge.
Some lawmakers are worried he might attempt to introduce an unofficial slate of rival electors who claimed to cast ballots for Trump or simply declare Arizona’s election invalid and seek to bypass it in the count. In this worst-case scenario, Congress would be forced to step in and override his decision. If Pence simply introduces Biden’s electors, they will likely be challenged by Republican lawmakers under processes laid out in federal law, which would require both chambers to separately debate the matter and vote. Those efforts are already doomed in both branches.