President Donald Trump ramped up the pressure on Vice President Mike Pence while speaking to a crowd of supporters at a campaign rally in Georgia on Monday.
Declaring that Pence is “a great guy,” Trump told a cheering crowd that he hopes the vice president will “come through” for him when Congress meets on January 6th to certify the votes of the Electoral College. “I hope that our great vice president comes through for us,” Trump said. “He’s a great guy.”
“Of course, if he doesn’t come through I won’t like him quite as much,” Trump added. “Nah, Mike is a great guy. He’s a wonderful man and a smart man and a man that I like a lot.”
What’s going on?
The rally that the president held was on behalf of Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA), who faced off against their Democratic challengers in a runoff election on Tuesday. The race is of the utmost importance as it will determine which party controls the Senate in the next congress. Democrats would have to win both races to take over from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
But, what President Trump was referring to here was what is going to happen on January 6th. It is the day that Congress will meet to certify the votes of the Electoral College, which gave Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden the victory by a score of 306 to 232.
On that day, over 140 House Republicans and a much smaller group of Senate Republicans are expected to object to the electors of a number of close states, including Georgia. They will do so because of the allegations of fraud that have been raised.
What their objections will do is lead to a debate on the electors, which will be followed by a vote on whether or not to accept the electors. The Republicans are not expected to have enough support to be able to reject the electors, and so, Biden is expected to remain the winner of the 2020 election.
What about Pence?
The vice president does have a role on January 6th, although it is just a ceremonial one. It is to introduce the electors of each state. President Trump, in saying, “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us,” obviously believes that Pence has the ability to do something more than this, although it is unclear what.
The New York Times reports that “Two people briefed on the discussions said Mr. Trump had directly pressed Mr. Pence to find an alternative to certifying Mr. Biden’s win, such as preventing him from having 270 electoral votes and letting the election be thrown to the House to decide.”
Similarly, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has attempted to argue, legally, that Pence, under the Constitution, has the power to determine which electors ought to be certified. That lawsuit, however, was thrown out for lack of standing.
President Trump is probably referring to something along these lines. And, it is unclear whether Pence will abide.
A spokesperson for Pence has said that “the vice president welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people on Jan. 6.” This would seem to suggest that Pence will not go beyond his ceremonial role, but we’ll find out soon enough on Wednesday.