Trump's Line About Pence Causes a Ruckus

Ex-president says explicitly that his VP could have 'overturned' election results but chose not to
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2022 10:30 AM CST
Trump: Yes, Pence Could Have 'Overturned' Results
Former President Trump at a rally, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, in Conroe, Texas.   (Jason Fochtman/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Former President Trump made a flurry of provocative assertions over the weekend, both at a Texas rally and in a Sunday night statement. At the rally, he said he'd consider pardons for those connected to the Capitol riot and called for the "biggest protests we have ever had" if prosecutors "do anything wrong or illegal." Those remarks made headlines, and the Sunday statement is making more:

  • Anti-Pence: In the statement, Trump criticized Mike Pence and said his former VP did, in fact, have the authority to overturn the election results but failed to exercise it, reports the Hill. Otherwise, why are Democrats trying to reform the Electoral Count Act, he asked. "What they are saying, is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn't exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!" Trump wrote.

  • Rebuttal: Democrats dispute Trump's interpretation and say the vice president's role in the final count is merely a ceremonial one. "We're taking a look at the Electoral Count Act because it's an old statute and ... some of our colleagues in the House had tried to exploit ambiguities in it," Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren said on CNN. "But I frankly think the role of the vice president will probably remain unchanged."
  • Familiar phrase: Trump's line about Pence might have been his most "explicit" to date about what he wanted to see happen, notes the Washington Post. Conservative Bill Kristol took notice: "Talk about saying the quiet part loud," he tweeted. "Trump here admits or rather boasts that what he wanted Mike Pence to do was to 'overturn the election.'" A Rolling Stone analysis also used the "quiet part out loud" sentiment in its headline, as did Newsweek.
  • 2 views: Trump's view about the vice president's power when it comes to election certification was previously laid out in a memo by conservative lawyer John Eastman, and CNN has those details. George Conway, husband of former Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, counters in a tweet: "The Twelfth Amendment and the Electoral Count Act of 1887 already make it entirely clear that the Vice President merely opens the envelopes."
  • Critics in GOP: Like Kristol, Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger called out Trump for acknowledging that he wanted the election results "overturned." Kinzinger tweeted: "This is an admission, and a massively un-American statement. It is time for every Republican leader to pick a side ... Trump or the Constitution, there is no middle on defending our nation anymore." Cheney had a similar take, while GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham faulted Trump for talking about pardons for rioters. "I don't want to send any signal that it was OK to defile the Capitol," he said on CBS' Face the Nation, per Insider.
(More Donald Trump stories.)

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