Pence Made Small but Key Changes to Jan. 6 Script

He was the first VP since Gore to ask if there were any objections to results
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2022 8:21 PM CDT
Updated Mar 16, 2022 12:03 AM CDT
Pence Made Small, But Important Changes to Jan. 6 Script
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

(Newser) – On Jan. 6 last year, the vice president's largely ceremonial role in certifying the presidential election results became a potential turning point in American history. Then-President Trump was urging then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election results and block Joe Biden from becoming president. Pence, however, made it clear that he was resisting the pressure with some small but very important changes to the normal vice-presidential script, Politico reports. According to testimony provided to the House committee investigating the Capitol attack, Pence asked, "Are there any objections?" after each state introduced its electoral results.

Pence was the first vice president since Al Gore—and only the second since 1937, when the 20th Amendment shifted inaugurations from March to January—to ask the question. Pence attorney Greg Jacob told the House panel that Pence adopted the language to push back against conservative lawyer and Trump ally John Eastman, who wanted Pence to declare the election in dispute, which would give GOP-led legislatures time to appoint new slates of electors. Jacob said he told Eastman in email exchanges on Jan. 6 that sending the issue back to the states would violate the Electoral Count Act. Pence asked about objections before and after the session was interrupted by Trump supporters' invasion of the Capitol.

Pence aides tell Politico that another script change was a signal that he was rejecting another longshot effort from Trump to stay in power—the appointment of "alternate" slates of Trump-friendly electors from states that Biden won. In a change Pence worked on with aides, Pence said he would only count certificates that "the parliamentarians have advised me is the only certificate of vote from that state ... and that has annexed to it a certificate from an authority of that state purporting to appoint or ascertain electors." In recent weeks, Pence has been speaking more openly about the election ahead of a possible 2024 White House bid, NBC reports. "President Trump is wrong," Pence said last month, referring to Trump's claims that he could have thrown out the Electoral College results. (Read more Mike Pence stories.)

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