Former Vice President Mike Pence criticized former President Donald Trump on Friday for saying Pence had the power to contest the official results of the 2020 election.
As vice president, Pence presided over the January 2021 joint session of Congress in which members of the House and Senate ratified Joe Biden as the winner. Alleging voter fraud on a massive scale, Trump and many of his supporters have said Pence should have refused to certify the results.
In remarks to the conservative Federalist Society, Pence pushed back on this idea.
“Our Founders were deeply suspicious of consolidated power in our nation’s capital and were rightly concerned with foreign interference in our presidential elections if they were decided in the capital,” the former vice president said.
“But there are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, that I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes,” Pence added.
He then pointedly rebuked Trump for saying Pence should have contested the election results.
“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,” he said.
But Pence went even further, suggesting what Trump wanted him to do was “un-American.”
“Frankly there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president,” he said.
MIKE PENCE: “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." pic.twitter.com/7feWD75Fq1
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) February 4, 2022
In his speech, Pence referenced the Constitution in explaining why he acted the way he did.
He said that “under Article II Section One, elections are conducted at the state level, not by Congress,” and that “the only role Congress has with respect to the Electoral College is to open and count votes submitted and certified by the states.”
“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,” Pence added.
Trump pushed back on Pence’s comments in a statement released Friday evening.
Statement by Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America pic.twitter.com/O1KlRwT9a7
— RSBN 🇺🇸 (@RSBNetwork) February 5, 2022
“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.
“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,” he added.