Under pressure to help President Trump remain in the White House, Vice President Mike Pence will find himself in an awkward situation Wednesday when he presides over a joint session of Congress to count electors from across the country.
Some Trump supporters, hanging on to hope for a final electoral battle, have insisted for weeks Pence could play a key role in his constitutional duty to recognize electoral votes from the nation’s states. But others insist the vice president’s role is minor with little authority to affect the election.
The vice president’s constitutional role as president of the Senate means Pence presides over the session, which is set to begin at 1 p.m. EST.
On Monday, none other than President Trump himself made such a claim when he spoke to Georgians at a Senate re-election rally.
"I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you," Trump, who can lash out angrily when loyalists disappoint him, told the crowd.
In a tweet posted Tuesday, President Trump stated, "The Vice President has the power to reject fraudently chosen electors."
In an interview with CBN News, Trump attorney Jenna Ellis suggested that Vice President Pence has the constitutional authority to ask state legislatures in six battleground states to choose from their two competing slates of delegates.
“And that’s a fair question. That’s not exercising discretion,” Ellis insisted. “That’s not setting up any sort of bad precedent.”
Pressed by correspondent David Brody about when Pence could take such action, Ellis said it would make sense for him to bring up the issue of competing slates before he opens the sealed certification envelopes.
Yet some constitutional observers insist Pence’s role is minor, like that of an announcer, whose role is to open the certificates of electoral votes from the states, then hand them to lawmakers who read the certificates aloud.
According to an extensive Associated Press story, the joint session is expected to be dramatic when some GOP lawmakers rise to object after certificates are read from some disputed battleground states. But the role of the vice president is minor despite Trump’s wishes, the AP insists.
In the Vice President’s home state of Indiana, where Pence served as governor, Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana says Pence’s actions in the coming days could “haunt him” if Trump serves only one term and the vice president runs for the White House in 2024.
“Because if it's perceived that [Pence] didn't do all he could do for President Trump, that will hurt him,” Clark warns. “And so Mike's in a very difficult position."
Clark, who knows Pence personally, says the Vice President is not a fighter-brawler like President Trump who appears to enjoy a political fight.
“Mike's not that way,” Clark tells One News Now. “He wants people to like him and Donald Trump doesn't care about that."
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