Pence Refutes Trump's Claim on Over turning the Election


 Mike Pence speaks at the Florida chapter of the Federalist Society's annual meeting on Friday.
Mike Pence

‘He is wrong’: Pence rebuts Trump claim that he could have overturned election

At a conference in Florida, the former vice-president said that the idea of one person choosing the president was ‘un-America

Mike Pence, the former US vice president, has issued his strongest rebuke yet of Donald Trump, insisting that his old boss is “wrong” to claim that Pence could have overturned the 2020 election.

The unusually blunt criticism suggests that Pence, unswervingly loyal during his four years serving under Trump at the White House, is running out of patience with the ex-president’s assault on democracy.

“I heard this week that president Trump said I had the right to overturn the election,” Pence told a conference hosted by the conservative Federalist Society in Florida on Friday. “President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election.”

The Republican former governor of Indiana added: “The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone. Frankly there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”

“Under the constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election. And [current vice-president] Kamala Harriswill have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024.”

The intervention came after Trump issued a statement last Sunday pushing the false narrative that Pence could have “overturned” the presidential election on 6 January 2021 in his role presiding over the counting of electoral college votes by Congress.

Constitutional scholars, politicians and Pence himself have determined that the vice-president has no such power and play only a ceremonial role. Members of Congress are currently working on reforming the Electoral Count Act to clear up any lingering ambiguities.

The issue appears to have caused an irrevocable rift between Trump and Pence, who has faced booing and heckling from followers of the Make America Great Again movement. Pence recently revealed that he has not spoken to his former boss since last summer.

In a statement on Tuesday, Trump, who has pushed bogus claims for voter fraud, said the House of Representatives committee investigating the deadly January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol should instead look at “why Mike Pence did not send back the votes for recertification or approval”.

Pence was rushed from the Senate chamber that day and forced to lie low for hours in an underground car park. Trump did not call him to check on his safety even as a mob laid siege to Capitol chanting: “Hang Mike Pence!”

In his speech on Friday, Pence acknowledged the disappointment of the 2020 loss to Joe Biden but argued that “we did our duty”. He went on: “The truth is there’s more at stake than our party or political fortunes. If we lose faith in the constitution, we won’t just lose elections. We lose our country.”

He described January 6 as a “dark day” but, as in other recent public remarks, accused Democrats of blowing it out of proportion. Pence will not allow them to “use the actions of those who ransacked the Capitol to demean” the 74 million Americans who voted for him and Trump, he said.

While Pence has previously noted that he and Trump are never likely to see “eye to eye” over the events of January 6, his speech on Friday marked his most direct rebuttal to date.

The bad blood intensified on Friday night, when Trump issued a statement in response to Pence. “The vice president’s position is not an automatic conveyor if obvious signs of voter fraud or irregularities exist,” he said.

“That’s why the Democrats and RINOs [Republicans in name only] are working feverishly together to change the very law that Mike Pence and his unwitting advisors used on January 6 to say he had no choice.”

State election officials, judges and Trump’s own attorney general found no significant signs of voter fraud or irregularities in 2020.

The once unthinkable split is only likely to fuel speculation that the 62-year-old is laying the groundwork for a potential run for president in 2024, setting up a possible showdown with Trump, who has been hinting at a campaign of his own.

Pence would face an uphill struggle in the current political climate. On Friday the Republican National Committee (RNC) censured Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, two Republicans sitting on the January 6 committee. Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the RNC, said the pair were joining in a persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in “legitimate political discourse”.

Adonna Biel, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said: “Let’s be very clear — former vice president Mike Pence doesn’t deserve credit for ‘breaking’ with Trump after standing shoulder to shoulder with him for nearly six years.”

“Pence stood silent as Trump undermined our democracy, and he surely could have done more before Trump incited a mob to attack the Capitol, assault police officers, and try to overturn an election.

“On the same day the Republican party voted to declare the January 6 insurrection ‘legitimate political discourse,’ it could not be more clear that Pence’s comments today are a day late and a dollar short, to say the least.”

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