WASHINGTON (AP) – He was President Donald Trump’s most loyal soldier, dutifully assisting the unpredictable leader through chaotic situation after chaotic situation.
Now Vice President Mike Pence finds himself in the most precarious position of his term as he prepares to lead the vote of the electoral college in Congress on Wednesday. This is the final front in Trump’s futile attempts to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.
Pence, seated on the House podium, will witness the formalization of Trump – and his own – electoral defeat, as recorded by the electoral votes of the House and Senate MPs. At the end of the count, it will be his job to announce who won the majority of the votes for both the President and Vice-President.
But Pence, whose forbidden role is largely pro forma, has come under heavy pressure from the president and legions of supporters who want the vice president to seize the moment to overthrow the will of voters in a handful of critical battlefield states.
“I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you,” Trump said at a rally Monday night in Georgia for candidates in two Senate runoffs.
“Of course, if he doesn’t get through, I won’t like him that much,” added Trump, laughing as he drew. He said Pence would “have a lot to say about it. And you know one with him, you’re about to get shots. He’ll make it clear. “
Pence spent hours teaming up with the president, staff, and Senate MP. His office declined to discuss his plans for Wednesday’s census. But people close to the Vice President stressed his respect for the institutions, saying they expect him to act in accordance with the law and abide by the Constitution.
“I think he’s going to basically approach that as a constitutionalist and say, ‘What’s my role in the Constitution as President of the Senate?'” Said David McIntosh, president of the Conservative Club for Growth and Pence Friend. “What he’s going to do is allow everyone who moves to the object to be heard, but then stick to what the majority of the Senate leads to the result.”
In performing one of the few formal duties of the vice presidency, Pence also risks jeopardizing his own political future. Pence plans to run for the White House himself in 2024 and is counting on his years of loyalty to Trump, who is likely to be the GOP’s best kingmaker in the coming years, to stand out in what is likely to be a crowded field.
That said, he must avoid angering Trump along with large sections of the Republican grassroots who subscribed to unsupported claims by the president of widespread electoral fraud and were falsely led to believe that Pence has the power to reverse the outcome, by rejecting the votes of states like Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which moved from Trump to Biden in 2020 in 2016.
“Stop the theft!” Georgia voters sang to pence at a rally for Senate candidates held at Rock Springs Church in Milner, Georgia Monday.
“I know us all – we all have our doubts about the last election. And I want to assure you that I share the concern of millions of Americans about voting irregularities, “Pence told the crowd. “And I promise you, come this Wednesday, we have our day in Congress. We will hear the objections. We’ll hear the evidence. “
On Wednesday from 1 p.m. Pence will chair a joint conference session. Its task is to open the documents of the votes from each state and to present them in alphabetical order to the appointed “storytellers” from the House and Senate. At the end of the count, Pence must announce who has won.
Pence held a two-hour session on Sunday that the Senate MP attended to review his role and responsibilities. The allies insist that his role is largely ministerial and that the election census can only be overridden by lawmakers – a virtual impossibility with the Democrats in control of the house.
But Pence was in the Oval Office with Trump and senior officials on Monday as the president continued to look for ways to reverse the election results. The scene was animated as the President, Pence, and their chiefs of staff met with attorney John Eastman and others.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who led the president’s legal effort, said in a podcast interview the team had consulted with constitutional law professors and analyzed Pence’s options. He said Trump and Pence would “go through all of the research” on Monday and likely wait until Tuesday to make a decision on how to proceed.
“The president will make this decision based on his judgment and the advice he receives on the requirements of the constitution,” Giuliani told conservative activist Charlie Kirk.
Despite claims made by Trump and his allies, there was no widespread fraud in the election. This has been confirmed by a number of election officials and by William Barr, who resigned as attorney general last month. Neither Trump nor any of the lawmakers who promise to object to the census have presented any credible evidence that would alter the outcome.
Still, more than 100 House Republicans and a dozen Senate Republicans have announced that they will challenge the electoral votes of at least one of the battlefield states on Wednesday.
And on Monday, Republican parties in several states sent letters to Ronna McDaniel, Chair of the Republican National Committee, urging Pence to turn down legally elected voters from Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.
The efforts make it next to impossible for Pence to stay above the battle, as some allies had hoped. Others have expressed regret that some extreme Trump loyalists, including former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell, have tried to drive a wedge between Trump and his Vice President in the last few days of the administration.
That frustration appears to be shared by Pence, who recently expressed his frustration to McIntosh over an ad by anti-Trump group The Lincoln Project portraying the Vice President as aloof from Trump. So the Club for Growth cut its own ad that it aired in Palm Beach during Trump’s Florida vacation, expressing Pence’s loyalty to the president.
McIntosh said Pence resented what he thought was a “cheap shot” of the group, adding that he expected Pence to come out of this week’s drama with a reputation intact.
“There is this uncomfortable feeling right now, but in the long run, people will respect you if you do what you think is right and explain why you are doing it,” he said. “This moment will pass. The decision is made. “