Why Pence cannot ‘save’ Trump on January 6

January 31, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence has come under heavy pressure from President Donald Trump to back an unconstitutional scheme to overturn his Electoral College defeat (306-232) in a joint session of Congress on January 6. According to multiple reports, advisers have repeatedly had to explain to the president that the vice president’s role is merely ceremonial, Salon reports.

In addition to losing the general election by 7 million votes, Trump has lost every legal challenge after failing to show evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities and is now “laser-focused” on January 6, Igor Derysh of Salon notes.

Indeed, the outgoing president views the joint session of Congress as his “last stand for overturning the electoral outcome,” multiple administration officials told The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman. Trump has demanded that Pence “act” to stop the ratification of the Electoral College, according to CNN.

Trump has raged at Pence and top White House officials in recent days as they have pushed back on his doomed scheme and would view Pence carrying out his constitutional duty and validating the election result as “the ultimate betrayal,” according to Axios’ Jonathan Swan.

This pressure arguably puts Pence in a bind, since legally he cannot do anything to affect the result. The vice president reportedly plans to flee Washington for his first overseas trip since the coronavirus pandemic began right after the session.

“Pence’s constitutional role is to ‘open’ the certificates. That’s it,” said Harry Litman, a former Justice Department official and constitutional law expert at UCLA. “Not to certify. Not even technically to count. He has no way even to purport to change the count. It’d be like saying the Oscar presenters get to decide who wins best picture.”

Research contact: @Salon

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