Vice President Mike Pence arrives to hold swearing-in ceremonies for Senators in Washington. File/Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Vice President Mike Pence told a crowd of conservative Christian voters at a campaign event in Milner, Georgia, to stop a Democratic takeover in Washington. "We’re going to keep Georgia, and we’re going to save America,” Pence said at Rock Springs Church in Milner.
He has been President Donald Trump’s most loyal soldier, dutifully backing the unpredictable leader through one chaotic situation after another.
Pence finds himself in the most precarious position of his tenure as he prepares to preside over Wednesday’s congressional tally of Electoral College votes, the last front in Trump’s futile attempts to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.
Perdue addressed the church crowd in Milner by telephone while quarantining over coronavirus exposure, claiming that "the very future of our republic is on the line” and declaring the duty to vote "a calling from God.”
"These Senate seats are truly the last line of defense,” Trump said. He added, "It's really fight for our country, not a fight for Trump.”
Seated on the House of Representatives’ rostrum, Pence will bear witness to the formalization of Trump’s - and his own - election defeat, as tellers from the House and Senate record states’ electoral votes. At the end of the count, it will be his job to announce who has won the majority of votes for both president and vice president.
But Pence, whose proscribed role is largely pro forma, is under intense pressure from the president and legions of supporters who want the vice president to use the moment to overturn the will of the voters in a handful of critical battleground states.
“I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you,” Trump said at a rally on Monday night in Georgia for candidates in two Senate runoff elections.
“Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much,” Trump added, drawing laughs. He said Pence was “going to have a lot to say about it. And you know one thing with him, you’re going to get straight shots. He’s going to call it straight.”
Pence has spent hours huddling with the president, staff and the Senate parliamentarian. His office declined to discuss his plans heading into Wednesday’s count. But people close to the vice president stressed his respect for institutions and said they expect him to act in accordance with the law and hew to the Constitution.
“I think he will approach this as a constitutionalist, basically, 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 a Pence friend. “What he’ll do is allow anybody who is going to move to object to be heard, but then abide by what the majority of the Senate makes the outcome.”
In fulfilling one of the few formal responsibilities of the vice presidency, Pence also risks compromising his own political future. Pence is eyeing his own run for the White House in 2024, and is banking on his years of loyalty to Trump - likely to be the GOP’s top kingmaker for years to come - to help him stand out in what is expected to be a crowded field.
That means he must avoid angering Trump along with large portions of the Republican base, who have bought into the president’s unsupported claims of widespread election fraud and have been falsely led to believe that Pence has the power to reverse the outcome by rejecting the votes from states like Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that swung from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020.
“Stop the steal!” voters in Georgia chanted to Pence at a rally for the Senate candidates at the Rock Springs Church in Milner, Georgia, on Monday.
“I know we all - we all got our doubts about the last election. And I want to assure you, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities,” Pence told the crowd. “And I promise you, come this Wednesday, we’ll have our day in Congress. We’ll hear the objections. We’ll hear the evidence.”
On Wednesday beginning at 1pm, Pence is to preside over a joint session of Congress. His role is to open the certificates of the electoral votes from each state and present them to the appointed “tellers” from the House and Senate in alphabetical order. At the end of the count, it falls to Pence to announce who won.
Pence on Sunday held a two-hour meeting that included the Senate parliamentarian to review his role and responsibilities. Allies stress his role is largely ministerial, and that the electoral count could only be overturned by the lawmakers - a virtual impossibility given that Democrats control the House.
But on Monday, Pence was in the Oval Office with Trump and senior aides as the president continued to seek pathways to overturn the election results. The scene appeared animated as the president, Pence and their chiefs of staff met with lawyer John Eastman and others.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has been leading the president’s legal effort, said in a podcast interview that the team had been consulting with constitutional law professors and analyzing Pence’s options. He said Trump and Pence on Monday were “going through all of the research” and would probably wait until Tuesday to make a decision on how to proceed.
“The president will make this decision based on his judgment and the advice that he gets on what the Constitution demands,” Giuliani told conservative activist Charlie Kirk.
Despite claims by Trump and his allies, there was not widespread fraud in the election. This has been confirmed by a range of election officials and by William Barr, who stepped down as attorney general last month. Neither Trump nor any of the lawmakers promising to object to the count have presented credible evidence that would change the outcome.
“In this battle for the soul of America, Democracy prevailed,” Biden said in a prime-time speech from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. “Now it’s time to turn the page, as we’ve done throughout our history — to unite, to heal.”
The phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday was the latest step in an unprecedented effort by a sitting president to pressure a state official to reverse the outcome of a free and fair election that he lost.
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence said in a letter released by his office as the House prepared to vote on a non-binding resolution calling on him to utilize the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution.
The vice president, a loyal lieutenant during the four years of Trump’s often chaotic presidency, has no plans to intervene and has told Trump he does not have the power to do so, even as he seeks to show support for the Republican president’s quest.
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