On Wednesday afternoon, long before the Capitol’s windows were smashed out and the congressional chamber became the nation’s highest-trending selfie spot, Vice President Mike Pence was presiding over a joint session of Congress in which the results of the 2020 election were to be certified.
President Trump had been pressuring Pence to “reject” the electoral college results during his role in the process, with Pence having told Trump repeatedly that he did not believe he possessed the power to do so.
As the President addressed a large crowd of supporters who had gathered to protest the election, Mike Pence bluntly told Congress via letter that there would be no objection from him.
“I do not believe that the Founders of our country intended to invest the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress, and no Vice President in American history has ever asserted such an authority,” Pence wrote.
“Some believe that as Vice President, I should be able to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally,” Pence wrote, adding that he disagreed with that position.
Pence continued, citing precedent.
Pence cited Supreme Court Justice Joseph Bradley who defined in 1876 the duties of the vice president during the joint congressional certification of the vote as “ministerial. He also described his role as the presiding officer of the Joint Session of Congress was “largely ceremonial.”
“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” he said.
Pence said he would hear the challenges to the electoral votes but would not act to overturn the results of the election.
“When the Joint Session of Congress convenes today, I will do my duty to see to it that we open the certificates of the Electors of the several states, we hear objections raised by Senators and Representatives, and we count the votes of the Electoral College for President and Vice President in a manner consistent with our Constitution, laws, and history,” he concluded. “So Help Me God.”
As protesters stormed the Capitol later in the day, many called for Pence to “show himself” in the congressional chamber.
Photo of Senate right now. 'Where's Pence, show yourself!' protester shouts pic.twitter.com/xGVKMnsf3T
— Steven Nelson (@stevennelson10) January 6, 2021
The Washington DC National Guard has been fully activated, and will be working with several traveling police forces in an attempt to bring peace to the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.
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