Former President Donald Trump released a blistering attack Friday afternoon on former Vice President Mike Pence’s claims earlier in the day about the January 6, 2021 Joint Session of Congress over which Pence presided at which Electoral College votes submitted by the states were counted.
In a speech before the Florida Chapter of the Federalist Society in Orlando on Friday, Pence asserted, “There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes. And I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election.’ President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election.” (emphasis added)
Pence was apparently not referring to any communication sent to him by former President Trump prior to the Joint Session of Congress over which he presided on January 6, 2021, but was instead referring to a statement made by former President Trump and released by his SaveAmerica PAC on January 30, 2022:
If the vice president (Mike Pence) had “absolutely no right” to change the presidential election results in the Senate, despite fraud and many other irregularities, how come the Democrats and RINO Republicans, like wacky Susan Collins, are desperately trying to pass legislation that will not allow the vice president to change the results of the election? Actually, 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! (emphasis added)
Trump’s point in that January 30, 2022 statement is that if the right never existed, why are “Democrats and RINO Republicans, like wacky Susan Collins,” so determined to take that right away?
In Friday’s address to the Florida Chapter of the Federalist Society, Pence took advantage of Trump’s general and imprecise phrasing in that January 30, 2022 statement to make a specific point: that his options on January 6 were to either (a) follow the law and the Constitution, or (b) “overturn the election.”
“Pence had other options available to him – such as walking away and allowing legislatures more time. He had in his hand a letter from numerous legislators asking for this,” one legal expert told The Georgia Star News and The Star News Network.
The “overturn the election” option set forth by Pence in his February 4 address in Florida is a straw man “to knock down and hopefully avoid the other questions – like, what about giving the legislatures more time? Does he think they should have had more time? Or, at least, been allowed to meet?” the legal expert told The Star News.
On January 5, 2021, 88 state legislators sent a letter to Vice President Pence, asking him to postpone “opening and counting of the Electoral Votes for at least 10 days,” as Breitbart News reported at the time.
Trump pushed back quickly against Pence later in the day on Friday.
“Just saw Mike Pence’s statement on the fact that he had no right to do anything with respect to the electoral vote count, other than being an automatic conveyor belt for the old crow Mitch McConnell to get Biden elected president as quickly as possible,” Trump said in Friday’s statement released by the Save America PAC.
“Well, the vice president’s position is not an automatic conveyor if obvious signs of voter fraud or irregularities exist,” Trump continued.
Between Election Day November 3, 2021 and January 6, 2021 – the date at which a Joint Session of Congress was convened to review and count the electoral college votes certified by state officials and officially conveyed to Congress – there were numerous reports in the press of election irregularities in the key battleground states of Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden was certified as the narrow winner by state officials
Prior to January 6, 2021 the following information about election irregularities during the 2020 presidential election was already known in several key battleground states where Biden narrowly won. In Georgia, where Biden was certified by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, and Governor Brian Kemp, also a Republican, as the narrow victor (less than 11,000 votes out of 5 million cast) over former President Trump in the 2020 election and subsequently received the state’s 16 Electoral College votes:
- Approximately 600,000 absentee ballots were deposited in drop boxes and counted in the November 2020 election, even though drop boxes were not statutorily authorized by the Georgia State Legislature.
- Secretary of State Raffensperger certified the November 2020 election results despite failing to obtain and review critical chain of custody documentation for any of those 600,000 absentee ballots.
- Preliminary results of critical chain of custody documents in Cobb County, Georgia, obtained by The Georgia Star News in December 2020 revealed “78 percent of the more than 89,000 absentee ballots from drop box locations, required to be “immediately transported” to the county registrar according to Emergency Rule of the State Election Board for Absentee Voting, took more than one hour to be transferred to election officials.”
- On December 17, 2020, The Star News reported, “DeKalb County has failed to produce the drop box absentee ballot transfer forms that are required under a State Election Board emergency rule … DeKalb County, with its 34 drop box locations, accounted for more than 10 percent of Georgia’s absentee ballot drop boxes. “
On December 17, 2020, more than two weeks before the January 6, 2021 Joint Session of Congress, the Amistad Project released a report on Mark Zuckerberg’s $419 million contribution to two nonprofits involved in the 2020 election that found those donations “improperly influenced [the] 2020 presidential election, as Breitbart News reported:
A report released by the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society at a press conference on Wednesday alleged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife made $419.5 million in contributions to nonprofit organizations during the 2020 election cycle – $350 million to the “Safe Elections” Project of the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) and another $69.5 million to the Center for Election Innovation and Research – that “improperly influence[d] the 2020 presidential election on behalf of one particular candidate and party.”
“The 2020 presidential election witnessed an unprecedented and coordinated public-private partnership to improperly influence the 2020 presidential election on behalf of one particular candidate and party. Funded by hundreds of millions of dollars from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other high-tech interests, activist organizations created a two-tiered election system that treated voters differently depending on whether they lived in Democrat or Republican strongholds,” Amistad Project Director Phill Kline wrote in the report’s executive summary.
The report identified three key actions that, taken together, “represent the beginning of the formation of a two-tier election system favoring one demographic while disadvantaging another demographic.”
- Private monies dictated city and county election management contrary to both federal law and state election plans endorsed and developed by state legislatures with authority granted by the United States Constitution.
- Executive officials in swing states facilitated, through unique and novel contracts, the sharing of private and sensitive information about citizens within those states with private interests, some whom actively promote leftist candidates and agendas.
- Swing state governors also started issuing emergency executive orders shutting down in-person voting while pouring new state resources into encouraging persons to vote in advance. Polling data revealed this coordinated assault on in-person voting generally favored Democrat Party voters who preferred to vote in advance, while placing Republicans, who preferred to vote in person, at a disadvantage. These actions represent the beginning of the formation of a two-tier election system favoring one demographic while disadvantaging another demographic.
Subsequent to the November 3, 2020 election, and prior to the January 6, 2021 Joint Session of Congress, none of the state legislatures in any of five key battleground states were in session, and not a single governor – including the Republican governors of Arizona and Georgia – called their respective state legislatures back in session. Nor did the leadership of any of these state legislatures – all of which were Republican-controlled – push for a special session or call to convene a special session to review significant allegations of election irregularities.
On January 2, 2022, “U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Senators-Elect Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) issued the following [joint]statement in advance of the Electoral College certification process [scheduled to be held in a Joint Session of Congress] on January 6, 2021,” which documented those contemporaneous concerns over election irregularities:
Voter fraud has posed a persistent challenge in our elections, although its breadth and scope are disputed. By any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes.
And those allegations are not believed just by one individual candidate. Instead, they are widespread. Reuters/Ipsos polling, tragically, shows that 39% of Americans believe ‘the election was rigged.’ That belief is held by Republicans (67%), Democrats (17%), and Independents (31%).
Some members of Congress disagree with that assessment, as do many members of the media.
But, whether or not our elected officials or journalists believe it, that deep distrust of our democratic processes will not magically disappear. It should concern us all. And it poses an ongoing threat to the legitimacy of any subsequent administrations.
Cruz and the other signators on that January 2, 2021 joint statement went on to suggest that, following a precedent set in 1877, when election irregularity allegations swirled around the outcome of the 1876 presidential election, “Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed.”
On November 10, 2020, one week after the November 3, 2020 election, Pence himself updated Republican senators on the status of lawsuits and made the point that every legal vote should be counted and every illegal vote not counted,” The Hill reported.
On January 4, 2021 in Georgia, two days before the January 6, 2021 Joint Session of Congress over which he presided, and one day before the January 5, 2021 Georgia U.S. Senate elections in which two Democrat candidates narrowly defeated the two incumbent Republican U.S. Senators, Pence promised evidence of fraud would be part of the proceedings at the Joint Session of Congress, as Yahoo News reported:
“We’ve all got our doubts about the last election. I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities,” Pence said at an indoor congregation at Rock Springs Church in Milner, Ga., in support of Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in runoff elections there.
Pence, who by law will be tasked with declaring a winner of the Electoral College vote, seemed to leave open the possibility that Trump could still remain in power for a second term.
“Come this Wednesday,” he said, referring to the impending certification of election results, “we’ll have our day in Congress. We’ll hear the evidence.”
After the riot at the Capitol on January 6 disrupted the Joint Session of Congress, virtually none of that evidence was presented or heard.
Subsequent to the January 6, 2021 Joint Session of Congress over which then-Vice President Pence presided, a number of alleged election irregularities have been litigated, investigated, or reported in several key battleground states:
- In Michigan, a “Zuckerberg-funded nonprofit paid $11.8 million to Democrat political consulting firms for ‘nonpartisan voter education’ in Michigan 2020 election,” as The Michigan Star, part of The Star News Network, reported.
- In Georgia:
- On January 4, 2022, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced an investigation into allegations of ballot harvesting – a practice that is illegal in Georgia, as Just the News reported.
- On January 27, 2022, Just the News reported, “As Georgia ballot probe starts, some evidence has disappeared.”
- On June 19, 2021, Just the News reported, “Georgia investigator’s notes reveal ‘massive’ election integrity problems in Atlanta.”
- In DeKalb County, when chain of custody documents were finally obtained, The Star News reported in August 2021, “43,000 absentee ballots violated chain of custody rules.”
- In Wisconsin a circuit court judge ruled on January 13, 2022, Wisconsin Election Commission’s “guidance on absentee ballot drop boxes [deployed statewide in the 2020 election] violates state law.”
- In Pennsylvania, “Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court handed down an opinion early Friday declaring a major election law unconstitutional. The 2019 law, known as Act 77, dramatically expanded mail voting ahead of the 2020 election, passing with near-unanimous Republican support,” WHYY reported on January 28, 2022.
- In Arizona, the results of a controversial and long delayed audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results by the Arizona State Senate revealed a number of election irregularities that have been referred to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for further action.
Read Trump’s complete February 4, 2022 statement here:
Just saw Mike Pence’s statement on the fact that he had no right to do anything with respect to the electoral vote count, other than being an automatic conveyor belt for the old crow Mitch McConnell to get Biden elected president as quickly as possible. Well, the vice president’s position is not an automatic conveyor if obvious signs of voter fraud or irregularities exist. That’s why the Democrats and RINOs 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. The reason they want it changed is because they now say they don’t want the vice president to have the right to ensure an honest vote. In other words, I was right and everyone knows it. If there is fraud or large scale irregularities, it would have been appropriate to send those votes back to the legislatures to figure it out.
Read the portion of Pence’s February 4, 2021 remarks to the Florida Chapter of the Federalist Society as it relates to the events of January 6, 2021 here:
January 6 was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol. Lives were lost and many were injured. But thanks to the courageous action of the Capitol Police and federal law enforcement, the violence was quelled, the Capitol was secured, and we reconvened Congress that very same day to finish our work under the Constitution of the United States and the laws of this country. (Applause) Under Article Two, Section One, elections are conducted at the state level, not by Congress.
The only role Congress has with respect to the Electoral College is to open and count votes submitted and certified by the states. No more, no less. Actually, our Founders were deeply suspicious of consolidated power in our nation’s Capitol and were rightly concerned with foreign interference in our presidential elections if they were decided in our new Capitol. That’s why the Constitutional Convention settled on state-based elections.
And that’s also why the United States Senate was right to reject the Democrats’ latest effort to nationalize our elections just two weeks ago. (Applause) But there are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, I possess the unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes. And I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election. President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone.
And frankly, there is 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 Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024.
Read the complete transcript of Pence’s February 4, 2021 remarks to the Florida Chapter of the Federalist Society and watch the full video of those comments here.
– – –
Michael Patrick Leahy is the Editor-in-Chief of The Georgia Star News and The Star News Network.