US Vice President Mike Pence, in defiance of President Donald Trump, said on Wednesday he will not intervene to stop Congress certification of Joe Biden’s victory, making the Democrat the next president on January 20.
"It is my considered judgement 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," Pence said in a statement he shared on Twitter.
His statement came as Congress began its session to certify the Electoral College votes from the November 3 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 said.
In the days before the joint session, Trump has pressured his vice president to toss electors from battleground states that voted for Biden to overturn the will of voters in a desperate and futile bid to undo President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.
“If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” Trump told thousands of supporters who rallied Wednesday on the Ellipse, just south of the White House, an hour before the count in Congress was to begin. Pence did not attend the event.
“All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people,” Trump said, repeating a falsehood he has been promoting leading up to the congressional session.
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.
Nevertheless, more than 100 House Republicans and a dozen Senate Republicans have said they will challenge the electoral votes of at least one state. Majorities in both chambers are required to reject the will of voters, but enough Republican lawmakers have said they will join with Democrats to reject the last-ditch move by Trump's allies.
- With The Associated Press